Israel's Army said on Thursday it had used potentially lethal teargas grenades of a type banned by its rules, but promised it would never happen again.

Their use was brought to light originally by a rights group which said in its findings that some units in the West Bank had fired the grenades during pro-Palestinian demonstration. The group, B'Tselem, said it had documented three incidents in November in which dozens of extended-range teargas grenades were fired at demonstrators in the West Bank.

The Army said it was aware of the situation, adding that regulations had now been clarified to ensure there would be no further illicit use of the ammunition.

Heavier than an ordinary teargas canister, the extended range round has a strong propellant jet and is almost impossible to detect in flight, making it extremely dangerous.

Air strike

The Israeli military says it has struck Gaza weapons manufacturing sites following mortar fire toward Israel.

The military says three airstrikes hit their targets early on Thursday in response to a string of Gaza mortar attacks at southern Israeli communities. The military says five projectiles were fired at Israel, lightly injuring one man. No one was wounded in the Israeli retaliation.

Peace talks

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas on Thursday stood firm on his demand for a halt to settlement building before talks with Israel can resume, as U.S. officials scrambled to rescue the collapsing peace process.

“We will not accept negotiations as long as settlements continue,” Mr. Abbas told reporters in Cairo after more than one hour of talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

The Palestinian leader said discussions with Mr. Mubarak had focused on “what comes after” Washington on Tuesday admitted that weeks-long efforts to persuade Israel to freeze settlements in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem had failed.

More In: International | News