Jerusalem, July 11 (IANS/EFE) A rocket fired from Lebanon landed in the northern Israeli region of Upper Galilee Friday without causing casualties, as Israel continued its offensive on the Gaza Strip for the fourth consecutive day, Israeli security sources said.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) told Efe news agency the rocket fell near the town of the Metullah, on the Israeli-Lebanese border, and the attack was responded to by Israeli fire.

Amos Gilad, the head of Israel's Political-Military Affairs Bureau at the defence ministry, said in statements to local media that the rocket was not fired by the Shia Islamic organisation Hezbollah but by a smaller radical group based in Lebanon.

The tension on the Israeli-Lebanese border came amid heavy bombing by Israeli warplanes and naval artillery on the Gaza Strip, where 98 Palestinians have been killed and more than 600 wounded, most of them civilians, since Israel launched Operation Preventive Edge this week to stop rocket attacks from the Strip.

Most of the rockets fired by the Palestinian side have been intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome missile defence system and only two soldiers have been slightly wounded.

US President Barack Obama Thursday offered to broker a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement in order to protect the lives of civilians and restore calm to the region.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon condemned the violence and urged both sides to exercise maximum restraint.

Israel has been massing troops on the border with the Gaza Strip and has called up 40,000 reservists as it prepares to launch a ground offensive.

The latest crisis between Israel and the Palestinians erupted June 12, when Israel began a massive search for three Jewish seminary students who went missing in the West Bank and were found murdered last week.

Israel blamed the kidnappings on Hamas, which has denied any role, and arrested 500 people, most of them linked to the group.

Tensions flared after a Palestinian teenager was abducted in Jerusalem last week and found burned to death hours later in a revenge killing for the murders of the three Israeli students.



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