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Lebanese troops dismantle rockets aimed at Israel

Lebanese army personnel inspect one of eight rockets found in a field in Naqoura village, near the port-city of Tyre, December 25, 2008. REUTERS/Haidar Hawila

TYRE, Lebanon (Reuters) - Lebanese troops on Thursday found and dismantled eight rockets set up for launch at northern Israel, Lebanese security sources said.

They said the Grad and Katyusha rockets were found near the village of Teir Harfa just north of the border with Israel.

It was not immediately clear who set up the projectiles in the area controlled by a U.N. peacekeeping force and the Lebanese army.

The area was a hotbed for Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hezbollah guerrillas until the 2006 war with Israel led to the deployment of the Lebanese troops and expanded the mandate of U.N. peacekeepers.

Hezbollah had no comment on the incident.

There had been at least two incidents of rockets fired into Israel from south Lebanon since the 2006 war, but both were blamed on Palestinian militants.

The rockets were found as tensions rose in the Gaza Strip after the end of a truce between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants there.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Thursday issued a “last-minute” appeal to Palestinians in Gaza to reject their Hamas rulers and stop rocket fire at Israel, warning them he would not hesitate to use force.

Reporting by Nadim Ladki; Editing by Matthew Jones