Israel Hit By Rockets From Lebanon Again

Rockets fired from Lebanon on Wednesday struck Israel for the second time in a week as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stepped up efforts to get a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas fighters in Gaza.

Lebanese officals said the Israeli army fired eight shells in response, but there were no injuries and no sign the incident would escalate into wider violence.

The rockets have prompted concern that militants in Lebanon could try to open a second front in solidarity with Gaza's Islamic militants. Last Thursday, a similar salvo hit northern Israel but Lebanese and Israeli officials were quick to play down the incident, blaming a rogue Palestinian faction, not the Iranian-backed Hezbollah movement.

The Lebanese government condemned the attack. Information Minister Tareq Mitri said it "gave Israel an excuse to harm the national interest".

Meanwhile, the United Nations chief called again for an immediate cease-fire, but there were no signs of an end to the 19-day-old Israeli air and ground campaign, despite efforts by Ban, as well as Egypt and Turkey.

"I repeat my call for an immediate and durable cease-fire," Ban told a news conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

Ban says he wants an end to Israeli attacks and Palestinian rocket fire as soon as possible. There are signs that pressure is building on Hamas to agree to a one-year cease-fire the Islamist group is discussing in Egypt, but so far Hamas has not accepted the terms.

"Hamas rocket attacks must stop, and at the same time I have been condemning the excessive military operation by the Israelis," Ban said.

An Israeli official also has been dispatched to Cairo to represent the Israeli view that Hamas must not be allowed to re-arm during any cease-fire.

Israeli forces have killed more than 1,000 Palestinians and wounded thousands more in their Gaza offensive. Israel says that on its side 10 soldiers, and three civilians hit by cross-border Hamas rockets, have been killed.

From staff and wire reports

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