Crisis in the Mideast deepens


AVIVIM, Israel -- Israel's two-front conflict saw its heaviest day of fighting yesterday, with nine Israeli soldiers and dozens of Hezbollah fighters killed in Lebanon and at least 23 Palestinians dead in the Gaza Strip. Amid the crisis, U.S., European and Arab officials meeting in Rome failed to reach agreement on a plan to end the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, and the United States resisted calls for an immediate cease-fire.

In fierce house-to-house fighting for control of the strategic border town of Bint Jbail, Israel suffered its highest one-day death toll of the 15-day-old offensive in Lebanon. More than two dozen Israeli soldiers were wounded. The losses fueled debate in Israel over the army's tactics against determined, heavily armed and deeply entrenched Hezbollah guerrillas.

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