Israeli forces strike Beirut


April 11, 1996
Web posted at: 7:05 a.m EDT (1105 GMT)

BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- Israeli aircraft launched an intense military assault against the militant Islamic group Hezbollah Thursday, striking targets in Beirut as well as in eastern and southern Lebanon.

It is the first time since 1982 that Israel forces have attacked Beirut.

At least one civilian was killed and at least five were wounded in Thursday's raid as Israeli helicopter gunships blasted Hezbollah areas in Beirut's southern suburbs.

Lebanon map

The Beirut raids came hours after Israeli aircraft pounded Hezbollah headquarters near the Lebanese cities of Tyre and Baalbek.

Israel officials said all aircraft have returned safely.

The attacks follow weeks of growing tensions between both sides. On Tuesday, about 30 Israelis were injured when Hezbollah rocketed villages in northern Israel.

General Shahak

Although it is not immediately clear how long Israel's operation will continue, Israeli Army Chief of Staff Gen. Amnon Shahak suggested Israel is prepared to carry out more assaults.

"I say that we are going to make it clear to the Hezbollah that the citizens of southern Lebanon won't be the shelter of their activities," he said.

Shahak added the attacks were not aimed at the Lebanese army and that Israel was solely targeting Hezbollah strongholds. (163K AIFF sound or 163K WAV sound)

wounded soldier

Shahak said one Lebanese military vehicle fired at an Israeli aircraft, which fired back. Reports suggest one Lebanese soldier was killed in the incident.

A journalist in Beirut told CNN the atmosphere in the Lebanese capital is chaotic. Fearing more attacks, Lebanese officials, he said, have told residents to stay away from Hezbollah areas.

Meanwhile, Israel officials, anticipating Hezbollah retaliatory strikes, have ordered residents in northern Israel close to the Lebanese border to stay in bomb shelters. Children in those regions are being evacuated to central Israel for safety purposes.

CNN Correspondent Jerrold Kessel contributed to this report.

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