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Hezbollah attacks Israeli targets as tensions escalate

February 12, 2000
Web posted at: 12:18 p.m. EST (1718 GMT)


In this story:

Israel: Hezbollah destroying peace prospects

Accusations traded

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



BEIRUT, Lebanon -- Hezbollah guerrillas mounted a fresh attack against Israeli troops in southern Lebanon on Saturday, with the Hezbollah leader threatening continued aggression against Israeli troops and Israel vowing to attack more civilian targets.

The guerrillas fired several U.S.-made TOW missiles at the Radar outpost in Bayyada overlooking the southern port city of Tyre, about two kilometers (1.2 miles) from the Israeli border.

No casualties were yet reported from from the 1:45 p.m. (1145 GMT) attack.

The attacks came a day after Hezbollah killed an Israeli soldier, the seventh Hezbollah has killed in southern Lebanon so far this year. After that attack, on the Israeli-occupied Beaufort Castle, Israel swiftly retaliated with airstrikes.

In Saturday's attack, Hezbollah said its guerrillas hit the outpost with rockets and "appropriate weapons ... scoring direct hits at fortifications there."

Hezbollah's leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said his followers will keep on attacking Israeli soldiers in the so-called Security Zone, even if Israel carried out threats to bomb more civilian targets.

"The bombing of the infrastructure in Lebanon will not protect the occupation soldiers; rather, it will subject them to further painful blows and operations," Nasrallah was quoted on Hezbollah radio as saying.

Israel's threat to bomb further civilian targets was in retaliation for increasingly effective Hezbollah attacks on Israeli-occupied southern Lebanon. Last week Israeli air raids destroyed a large amount of Lebanon's power supply and wounded around 20 civilians.

"Continuation of the Islamic resistance operations is not an issue for bargaining or threat no matter what the price, Nasrallah said. "These operations will continue unabated until the enemy is defeated and forced to withdraw unconditionally from Lebanon."

Israel: Hezbollah destroying peace prospects

Israel has warned that the Hezbollah attacks are eroding chances of peace between Israel and Syria, a main backer of Hezbollah and a dominant foreign power in Lebanon. Israel demands Syria restrain the guerrillas fighting to get Israelis out of southern Lebanon; Syria denies it has influence and says Hezbollah is a legitimate resistance movement.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has vowed to retaliate for the deaths of Israeli soldiers during attacks in the occupied southern Lebanon.

Israel walked out of a five-nation meeting Friday -- which was trying to negotiate an end to the violence -- after the Hezbollah attack on Beaufort.

The five nations monitor the April Understanding, a 1996 U.S. sponsored agreement that banned attacks from or on civilian targets but did not restrict attacks on combatants.

tank
Israel launched a fresh round of airstrikes after an Israeli soldier was killed by Hezbollah guerrillas  

Accusations traded

Israel was accused by Syria and its allies of violation of the agreement by destroying the power plants. But Israel said Hezbollah had also violated the agreement by firing rockets at its troops from civilian areas.

"I hope the situation does not deteriorate further," Lebanese Prime Minister Salim El-Hoss said.

"I cannot predict what kind of developments will take place, but there are contacts conducted by the U.S. and France to calm the situation and resume the monitors' meeting at the earliest possible time," Hoss told Al-Beiraq newspaper.

Barak on Friday repeated plans to leave Lebanon but Israeli commentators expressed doubts whether it will ease tensions in the area. "Within four-and-a-half months, I am determined to put an end to this tragedy in Lebanon ... and to bring the boys home."

He has maintained the withdrawal will be in the context of a peace agreement," but with peace talks with Syria now frozen, he has not said what will happen if Syria and Lebanon remain officially in a state of war with Israel.

"It's either-or (situation), " Ehud Ya'ari, an Israeli political analyst said. "If there are more attacks ... Barak is now bound to opt for a controlled military escalation."

Correspondent Jerrold Kessel and Reuters contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
Barak vows additional retaliation against guerrillas in south Lebanon
February 11, 2000
Israeli jets, Hezbollah keep up retaliatory attacks
February 10, 2000
Israeli warplanes strike Lebanon again
February 8, 2000
Continued fighting in Lebanon prompts international concern
February 3, 2000
Israel willing to talk with Syria despite Hezbollah attacks
February 1, 2000
Israel: No talks with Syria unless guerrillas curbed
January 31, 2000
Despite postponement of talks, Albright upbeat on Israel-Syria dialogue
January 18, 2000
Barak receives cool homecoming after peace talks with Syria
January 11, 2000

RELATED SITES:
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Syrian Arab Republic Ministry of Information
Office of the Israeli prime minister
Lebanon's Presidential Palace
CIA World Factbook: Israel
CIA World Factbook: Syria
CIA World Factbook: Lebanon

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