TEL AVIV (Aug. 28)
Israeli air force jets flew “mock raids” over Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon on Monday morning, apparently aimed at intimidating Islamic fundamentalists. But unlike an air strike the day before, no bombs were dropped.
The pro-Iranian Moslem fundamentalists acknowledged that nine of its members died and 35 were injured in the Sunday evening attack, during which Israeli jets bombed Hezbollah installations in the Ein Abusawar region, south of the port city of Sidon.
Hezbollah initially denied any casualties from the Israeli raid and later admitted one or two fatalities. It announced Monday, however, that nine dead had been buried and that the injured were hospitalized in the Sidon area.
Reports from Lebanese sources of another bombing raid by Israel on Monday were denied emphatically by a military spokesman here.
Later reports of a simulated raid by four Israeli jets were confirmed by Israeli sources. The low-flying aircraft broke the sound barrier. The sonic boom heard over a wide area apparently was mistaken for bomb explosions.
In Washington, the U.S. State Department appeared to be dismayed by the raids in Lebanon, but refrained from criticizing Israel directly.
“This incident underscores again the urgent need for security arrangements which will ensure stability and security for northern Israel and southern Lebanon,” said Richard Boucher, the department deputy spokesman.
“Incidents of violence in this region are part of the cycle which has caused needless suffering to Israelis and Lebanese alike,” he said.
The Israeli military actions come three weeks after a truck bomb planted by Hezbollah members exploded in the middle of an Israeli army convoy in southern Lebanon. Five Israeli soldiers and a South Lebanon Army militiaman were wounded in that attack.