JERUSALEM (May. 2)
The Israel Defense Force announced Monday that it is conducting a search operation in southern Lebanon.
A military spokesman made the announcement after NBC News reported that about 2,000 Israeli troops had crossed into Lebanon, in search of Palestine Liberation Organization and other terrorist strongholds.
Late, unconfirmed reports also indicated that Israeli troops opened artillery fire on a number of southern Lebanese villages.
The official announcement, which was reiterated by the Israel Embassy in Washington, cited the recent increase in attempts to infiltrate Israel from southern Lebanon.
It said: "In the framework of ongoing security measures, the Israel Defense Force is presently searching the security zone in south Lebanon due to the growing number of terrorist attempts to infiltrate into Israel for the purpose of committing murder and terrorist attacks for bargaining purposes.
"IDF operations will end with the conclusion of the search," the spokesman said.
According to Israeli authorities, there have been eight infiltration attempts in the first four months of this year, compared to 10 in all of 1987. Two Israeli soldiers and five terrorists were killed in border clashes last week.