| An Israeli armoured personnel carrier inside Lebanon after crossing Israel’s northern border at Avivim. (AFP)
On the Israel, Lebanon Border, July 22 (AP): Hundreds of Israeli troops moved in and out of Lebanon today, taking control of a village and engaging Hizbollah militants by land, sea and air as part of the country’s limited ground campaign.
The soldiers ' backed by artillery and tank fire ' moved into the large village of Maroun al-Ras on the Lebanese side of the border early today and took control, military officials said on condition of anonymity.
Lebanese security sources, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, disputed the account though, and said that the Israeli military had made incursions of only a few hundred meters into the Maroun al-Ras and Yaroun villages.
But an AP reporter on the Israeli side of the border saw Israeli troops head into Maroun al-Ras and said they were still fighting with some Hizbollah militants.
At one point in the fighting, a half-ton bomb was dropped on a Hizbollah outpost, about 500 meters from the border and near the village. More positions were bombarded by Israeli gunboats operating off the coast.
The raid was part of Israel’s wider strategy of running a “limited” ground operation aimed at destroying Hizbollah’s tunnels, hideouts and weapons stashes in south Lebanon. Soldiers said israeli defence forces were just 183 metres from Hizbollah militants who fired back. There were no injuries or deaths reported.
Hizbollah has fired hundreds of rockets at northern Israeli towns from north of the Lebanese border, killing 16 civilians and forcing hundreds of thousands of Israelis to repeatedly flee into bunkers.
Today, at least 42 rockets struck Karmiel, injuring two people, while rockets also fell on Kiriyat Shemona, Nahariya and smaller communities such as Bet Hilel, Mayan Baruch and Mashov Am.
Air raid sirens sounded several times in Haifa, Israel’'s third-largest city, but no rocket strikes were reported.
After Maroun al-Ras was taken, several small groups of Israeli soldiers in armoured personal carriers travelled to and from the village.
In Marwahin, also along the border, Israeli troops recovered anti-tank missiles, a launcher, and other weapons used by Hizbollah. The army said that more than 150 Hizbollah targets in Lebanon had been attacked. An UN official said yesterday that between 300 and 500 troops are believed to be in the western sector of the border, backed by as many as 30 tanks.