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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hezbollah Seizes Israeli Soldiers

BEIRUT, Lebanon -- Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid Wednesday, triggering an Israeli assault with warplanes, tanks and gunboats striking southern Lebanon as Israeli troops crossed the frontier to hunt for the captives.

Two Lebanese civilians were killed in Israeli airstrikes on a bridge in the south, Lebanese security officials said. The pan-Arab satellite television station al-Arabiya said at least seven Israeli soldiers were killed in the fighting, and that several more were wounded.

The capture of the two Israeli soldiers took place amid a bloody standoff between Israel and the Palestinians' Hamas-led government after Hamas-linked fighters captured another Israeli soldier, 19-year-old Corporal Gilad Shalit, in a cross-border raid outside the Gaza Strip on June 25.

One Hamas leader suggested the two groups would cooperate over their demands for a prisoner swap. "We have proven to this enemy [Israel] that the one option is the release of Palestinian, Lebanese and Arab captives. All captives, without exception," Osama Hamdan, Hamas' spokesman in Lebanon, told Al-Jazeera television.

 Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Hezbollah's cross-border attack was an act of war by Lebanon and he pledged a powerful military response, Reuters reported. "It is an act of war by the state of Lebanon against the state of Israel in its sovereign territory," he told a news conference Wednesday.