IBRAHIM BARZAK and STEVE WEIZMAN
January 9, 2009
JERUSALEM (AP) – Lebanese militants fired at least three rockets into Israel early Thursday, threatening to open a new front for the Jewish state as it pushed forward with a bloody offensive in the Gaza Strip that has killed nearly 700 people.
Two people were lightly injured, and the rockets that exploded in Israel’s north raised the specter of renewed hostilities with Hezbollah, just 2 1/2 years after Israel battled the guerrilla group to a 34-day stalemate. Hezbollah started the 2006 war as Israel was battling Palestinian militants in Gaza.
No group claimed responsibility and Lebanon’s government, wary of conflict, quickly condemned the rocket fire. Israel fired mortar shells into southern Lebanon in response.
For a second straight day, Israel said it suspended is Gaza military operation for three hours to allow in humanitarian supplies.
Before the lull on Thursday, Israel killed at least 11 people in Gaza, including five militants, raising the death toll from its 13-day offensive to 699 people, according to Palestinian medical officials. The offensive is meant to halt years of Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel, but with roughly half the dead believed to be civilians, international efforts to broker a cease-fire have been gaining steam.