07/12/2006, 00.00
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Hezbollah seizes two Israeli soldiers, war looming along the border with Lebanon

Hezbollah kidnaps two Israeli soldiers and calls for the release of prisoners from Israeli jails. Israel responds with air strikes and troop incursions across the border. Tensions are very high in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – The winds of war are blowing along the Israeli-Lebanese border (the Blue Line) following the kidnapping by Hezbollah of two Israeli soldiers. Local sources have told AsiaNews that tensions are very high in Jerusalem where the IDF has been ordered to start mobilising reserve units, a step that leaves little doubt as to how Prime Minister Olmert and his cabinet plan to deal with the crisis.

The situation along the Blue Line have been rapidly deteriorating after Hezbollah announced today that it captured two Israeli soldiers during an attack against Israeli border positions which according to AsiaNews sources left three other Israeli soldiers dead.

Lebanese police, who confirmed the capture, said the two soldiers were seized after they "infiltrated" the border near the village of Aita el-Shaab.

In a press release, Hezbollah said it would use the Israeli captives to free prisoners from Israeli jails.

Israel's response was swift. Lebanese security sources said Israeli planes struck roads and bridges in southern Lebanon, including the Sitt ash-Shabbat bridge, 30 kilometres from the border, killing two civilians and injuring a Lebanese soldier.

Israel has mobilised its ground forces, sending army units across the border in search for its two missing soldiers.

Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz warned that Israel will hold the Lebanese government responsible for the fate of the two soldiers.

Geir Pedersen, UN representative in Lebanon, has asked Hezbollah to release immediately the two soldiers to avoid an escalation "of an already tense situation along the Blue Line".

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See also
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Mounting pressures on Olmert to resign
"Urgent" need for a ceasefire in Lebanon, says Rice
Israel wondering “how and when” Hizbollah will exact revenge for Mugniyah’s killing
War to continue till international force's arrival, says Olmert


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