TEL AVIV (Oct. 20)
Israeli leaders vowed retribution for the deaths of seven Israeli soldiers killed Wednesday in a suicide car-bomb attack in the southern Lebanon security zone.
The victims, most of them commissioned and non-commissioned officers, were buried at various military cemeteries Thursday.
They were identified as Maj. Ilan Tal-Taussig of Rosh Pina; Capt. Ilan Ben-Chaim of Beersheba; Capt. Ron Werner of Haifa; Sgt. Maj. Maurice Dehan of Haifa; Staff Sgt. Shalom Ben-Ami of Acre; Cpl. Saguy Blau of Ramat Yishai; and Pvt. Yaacov Ben-Shaanan of Holon.
Meanwhile, forensic experts began sifting through the debris of an Israel Defense Force motor convoy for information about the car loaded with over 300 pounds of high explosives that blew up in its midst.
Eight other IDF soldiers and two Lebanese civilians were injured in the blast.
Hezbollah, the extremist pro-Iranian Shiite guerrilla group in Lebanon, has claimed credit for the attack.
Reports from Lebanon Thursday quoted a threat by Hezbollah sources that they would execute two IDF soldiers they captured in 1986 if there was any retaliation by Israeli forces.
“Our hands will catch every murderer. Not one will be spared. Those who send suicide car-bombers should know that they will pay the price,” Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin declared while visiting the scene of the attack.
Visibly shaken, Rabin blamed the disaster on the reign of chaos in Lebanon.
“But the fact that there is no law and no judge there, no governor and no government, does not give immunity either to Lebanon or to the Hezbollah madmen,” Rabin said.
Premier Yitzhak Shamir promised that “Israel’s sure and just hand will catch the murderers, each and every one.”
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said, “The Lebanese insanity and its murderous ways have hit our soldiers this time. We shall not rest until we find the perpetrators and bring them to punishment.”
TV ADS CANCELED
Six of the major political parties canceled the evening’s electioneering broadcasts out of respect for the victims.
The Labor Party was an exception. It said it would use the time to allow Rabin to be interviewed on military and defense policies.
The cancellation of the broadcasts was in response to a request by the chairman of the elections committee.
IDF Chief of Staff Gen. Dan Shomron said Thursday that the bombing incident did not call for any changes in IDF policy in Lebanon.
Military and defense establishment leaders seemed in agreement that despite the tragedy, the southern Lebanon security zone has proved its worth by keeping the suicide bomber away from Israel’s northern settlements.
They also rejected demands by right-wing militants that the border security fence, which separates the security zone from Israel, be moved north to fence off the zone from the rest of Lebanon.
That would prevent the free movement of Lebanese within their own country and be tantamount to annexing the zone with its more than 100,000 residents, the military sources said.
Meanwhile, security services are trying to determine how the explosive-laden car and its driver managed to enter the security zone and pass through military checkpoints set up by the IDF and the Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army.