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Hezbollah attacks Israeli army outpost

Palestinian emergency service workers
Palestinian emergency service workers extinguish fires on armored personnel carriers following an attack in Gaza  

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Police station 'destroyed'

Israel warns it will protect itself

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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Hezbollah guerrillas fired anti-tank missiles and machine guns at an Israeli army outpost near the disputed Shebaa Farms area on Monday, but the Israelis said no one was injured in the attack.

The missiles were fired from Lebanon at the Al-Samaka outpost in Shebaa Farms, at the foot of the Golan Heights.

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CNN's Mike Hanna: An intense escalation of violence

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Earlier, in the West Bank, Palestinian security officials told CNN that five Palestinian policemen were shot dead by Israeli troops near the town of Bitunia late Sunday.

Israeli army officials confirmed that the Israeli soldiers fired on unidentified armed individuals but did not immediately report any casualties.

Israeli forces withdrew from southern Lebanon last year but remain in the Golan Heights and Shebaa Farms, which it captured from Syria during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and which it says will only be discussed in future talks with Syria. Lebanon and Syria, however, say Shebaa Farms should be returned to Lebanon.

Hezbollah, a Syrian- and Iranian-backed group, confirmed the missile attack, saying two of the missiles had scored a direct hit on the Al-Samaka outpost.

The Israeli army said no one was hurt but admitted that the area would have been filled with soldiers had the rockets hit an hour later.

Police station 'destroyed'

The Israeli army also reported that it had "evacuated and destroyed" a Palestinian police station in the village of Shvika north of Tulkarem. It said forces had also destroyed several other structures used by Palestinians to launch attacks at Israelis.

The army -- which characterized its actions as "proactive ... in response to many shooting incidents that originate from these places against Israeli civilians and security forces, and are not prevented by Palestinian security forces" -- also noted an exchange of gunfire during the operation. There was no immediate comment from the Palestinians.

The reports came hours after Israeli helicopters attacked Palestinian armored vehicles in Gaza City, north of Khan Younis and near the refugee camp of Jebaliya.

"The Israeli army has attacked a few Palestinian Authority targets in reaction to continuing Palestinian terror and increasing violence during the past few days," said the Israeli army in a statement.

Israel warns it will protect itself

In a separate attack, the Israel Defense Forces said the Israeli navy fired shells on a Palestinian military observation point near a refugee camp in central Gaza.

Israeli officials said the Palestinian observation point has been used to monitor the movements of the Israeli navy.

Palestinian sources confirmed the Israeli army report but had no comment about the Israelis' characterization of what led to the attack. They told CNN the navy observation point at Nusseirat was heavily damaged, but the attack caused no casualties.

Nusseirat is in central Gaza near the Israeli settlement of Netzarin.

Israeli officials promised the attacks would continue.

The IDF "will continue acting aggressively against those who perpetrate terrorist acts and it will not tolerate the harming of their civilians and soldiers," said the army statement.



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Three Palestinians killed in West Bank, Gaza
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Palestinians declare state of emergency in Gaza after missile strikes
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RELATED SITES:
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Israel Defense Forces
Israeli Prime Minister's Office
Palestinian National Authority

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