Israel sends letter to UN protesting Hezbollah attack
Israel sent a protest letter to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday to complain about Hezbollah's shelling of Israeli positions on Har Dov earlier in the day and about rockets fired Monday from Lebanon.
Earlier Tuesday, Lebanon filed a letter of complaint with the UN Security Council over an Israeli air strike near Beirut on Monday night.
The IDF said the strike came in response to the rocket incident earlier Monday, in which a Palestinian group fired rockets from Lebanon into Israeli territorial waters.
An Israel Defense Forces soldier was lightly wounded Tuesday afternoon in the Hezbollah attack near the Israel-Lebanon border.
IDF troops returned fire after Hezbollah militants fired some 20 rockets and mortar shells at Har Dov.
A UN official stationed on the Lebanese border said Tuesday he has made contact with Hezbollah and Israel in an effort to prevent escalation, and said the UN has urged both sides to "exercise restraint."
Hezbollah spokesman Hassan Az a-Din said Tuesday the day's attack came in reaction to the Israeli air strike Monday, Israel Radio reported. He was also quoted as saying that Israel would be responsible for any escalation if it tries to widen the zone of fighting.
Deputy Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said Tuesday the IDF does not want an escalation in the north, Israel Radio reported.
IAF hits abandoned PFLP positionsIsrael Air Force warplanes struck targets near the Lebanese capital around 10 P.M. Monday. The planes fired two missiles at abandoned positions of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) led by Ahmed Jibril, on the Mediterranean coast at Naameh, 20 kilometers south of Beirut.
There were no reports of casualties or damage.
"This is a signal to the Lebanese government," Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said in response to the strike. "There is a government in Lebanon and it is responsible for what goes on in its territory," he added.
The IDF Spokesman issued a statement saying the strike was carried out in response to an incident in which 107-millimeter rockets were fired by a Palestinian organization from Lebanon and landed near a Dabur Israeli naval vessel patrolling Israeli territorial waters in the Mediterranean earlier in the day.
Later on Monday evening, however, a military source told Haaretz the rockets fired in the morning were actually aimed at Israeli land targets and not at the naval vessel.
The IDF statement issued following the Monday night strike said, "Israel is determined stop terror acts emanating from Lebanon and places the responsibility for these terror activities on the governments of Lebanon and Syria."
UN investigating incidentA statement from the United Nations office in south Lebanon said three rockets were fired from the Naqoura area and that UN officials were investigating. A Lebanese security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there were four rockets.
The Lebanese official said three of the rockets landed on the outskirts of the border town of Naqoura while one fell in the Mediterranean Sea off the coastal town. Authorities were investigating who was behind the attack, the official said.
In the past, radical Palestinian guerrilla groups have also fired rockets into northern Israel from Lebanon. The last time that happened was March 23, when IAF helicopter gunships fired on guerrillas who were launching rockets toward Israel from Wadi Sluqi, about 10 kilometers north of the border. Two guerrillas were killed and a third wounded in the air raid.
The guerrillas belonged to the radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine -General Command. They apparently wanted to avenge Israel's assassination of Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
While Lebanon's government strongly supports the Lebanese Hezbollah, it has opposed Palestinian guerrillas using southern Lebanon to attack Israel. Palestinian attacks in the 1970's and early 1980's brought harsh Israeli retaliations.