Israel holds back response to shelling
Haviv Dadon, 16, of Shlomi, was killed yesterday afternoon, and four people were injured when Hezbollah anti-aircraft shells crashed into the Galilee town. Security sources indicated last night that Israel's response to the Hezbollah anti-aircraft assault on Shlomi would be moderate.
Haviv Dadon, 16, of Shlomi, was killed yesterday afternoon, and four people were injured when Hezbollah anti-aircraft shells crashed into the Galilee town.
Security sources indicated last night that Israel's response to the Hezbollah anti-aircraft assault on Shlomi would be moderate.
Though the option of attacking Syrian sites in Lebanon has been considered, the brunt of Israel's response at this stage apparently will be conveyed in diplomatic efforts to pressure the Syrians to restrain Hezbollah.
Dadon, who was buried in his hometown cemetery last night, was the first fatality from Hezbollah anti-aircraft fire on the northern border since Israel Defense Force troops pulled out of southern Lebanon in May 2000.
Hezbollah was responsible for the death of an Israeli in March 2002 in the attack on Matzuba.
The shelling erupted around 12:25, coming from Hezbollah anti-aircraft cannons on the Lebanon side of the northern border, overlooking Shlomi. Seven shells were fired. Three landed in Shlomi - in the yard of a private home, and at two sites close to one another on Harav Hazan street, a preschool facility and a small plaza. Four shells exploded in the air and caused no injuries nor property damage. Nor did the shell which landed in the private yard cause injuries.
But the explosion in the plaza left Dadon dead and another teenager, Yaron Fingleh, sustained moderate injuries. Several other pedestrians in the plaza were hurt.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon convened top IDF brass last night to discuss plans for Israel's response. Israeli officials discussed "precisely directed" responses to Hezbollah aggression. According to these officials, Israel will refrain from overly harsh responses in the north, to prevent unnecessary escalation.
Similarly, top IDF officers said last night that the army has no interest in escalation, and that a careful military response, in tandem with diplomatic efforts, will suffice. Yet continued Hezbollah anti-aircraft attacks could apparently provoke stiffer Israeli retaliation, including immediate Israeli aircraft attacks on the sources of the Hezbollah shelling in Lebanon.
Hezbollah threatened yesterday to continue attacking Israel targets in the Shaba Farms area, and to respond to Israeli aircraft "encroachments" in Lebanon's airspace which constitute.
"Hezbollah is capable of responding to any attacks on Lebanese soil, and to Israeli provocation," warned Sheikh Nabil Kauk yesterday. Speaking in southern Lebanon, he added: "We want Israeli planes to stop violating our sovereignty, and we'll make sure that such infringements will cost Israel's military command dearly."
Israel Air Force planes yesterday attacked the Hezbollah anti-aircraft cannon that fired the shells on Shlomi. The IAF attacks destroyed the Hezbollah positions.
Israeli security officials are checking claims that three Hezbollah men were killed on Friday by IDF fire carried out in retaliation against Hezbollah shelling and missile fire against Har Dov. Hezbollah did not report the loss of any of men.
IDF forces in the north remain on alert, with their status unaltered since the assassination of Hezbollah operative Ali Hussein Salah one week ago in Beirut. This assassination was attributed to Israel.
In recent weeks, 18 Israelis have been hurt in the north by Hezbollah attacks.
The IDF Spokesman yesterday accused Hezbollah and Syria of acts of terror and of intentionally violating Israeli sovereignty.
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