Hizbollah Mounts Fierce Attack as UN Envoy Starts Tour
Three members of Israel's allied South Lebanon Army were killed and seven others wounded Friday along with an Israeli soldier in fierce Hizbollah attacks as a UN envoy began discussing Israel's upcoming withdrawal from southern Lebanon.
A Hizbollah fighter was also slain during the attacks.
Three SLA men were killed and four wounded when a pick-up truck loaded with explosives blew up at the militia's Aaramta position at the central edge of the Israeli-occupied zone, an SLA source said.
Hizbollah said in a statement its men seized the post, planted the explosives and withdrew before detonating them.
Three other SLA militiamen and an Israeli soldier were wounded in a series of Hizbollah attacks against about 26 Israeli and SLA positions in the occupied area, the SLA source said.
Hizbollah said in a statement that Fuad Abbas Shehab, 32, was killed in attacks against Israeli positions "in Ahmadiyeh and Ain Qenya," which are very close together.
Shehab was buried in his native village of Brital, in the Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon, in the presence of Hizbollah officials and MPs.
During the exchange of fire, one Katyusha rocket hit an Indian-held post of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) at Ibl al-Saqi in the eastern sector of the zone, causing damage but no casualties, a UN officer said.
The men of the Indian contingent had taken cover in a nearby building, he said.
Police said Hizbollah launched some 180 rockets and mortar bombs, while Israeli artillery and tanks responded by firing about 400 shells at hills and ravines north of the occupied zone where the guerrillas are believed to take shelter.
Israeli fighter-bombers also launched four missiles at Hizbollah bases in the Iqlim al-Tuffah hills while Lebanese army and Hizbollah anti-aircraft batteries opened fire against the planes.
Israel said its aircraft returned safely to base.
The Hizbollah offensive came as UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen began a two-week tour to discuss UNIFIL's role in Israel's plan to pull out of Lebanon by July 7.
Roed-Larsen met Israeli chief of staff General Shaul Mofaz Friday and held talks Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister David Levy.
ISRAEL VOWS GUERRILLAS WON'T STOP LEBANON PULLBACK
Israel vowed on Friday that increased resistance attacks in south Lebanon would not change its plans to withdraw its troops by July.
Cabinet minister Haim Ramon -- speaking hours after the attacks -- said Israel would respond “with all its might” to attacks by movement.
“We expect them to increase their attacks,” Ramon told Channel One Television. “If they do this we will force them to pay the necessary price in order to make it clear to them that we are leaving Lebanon.” – (Agencies)
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