TEL AVIV (Jun. 8)
The holiday weekend brought no letup in the Israel Defense Force pounding of guerrilla bases in southern Lebanon, which began last month.
As Israelis marked Shavuot, IDF artillery laid down a barrage against Hezbollah, the Islamic fundamentalist group, Sunday evening. More than 25 shells were lobbed into Joun village northeast of Sidon, causing damage but no casualties according to reports from the area.
The Israeli-allied South Lebanon Army joined the IDF in shelling a guerrilla stronghold on a mountain ridge at Iqlim Toufah near Sidon.
The SLA also aimed artillery fire at the source of shells and rocket-propelled grenades that hit its outpost on Sojud Hill, on the edge of the security zone.
The Israeli-backed Lebanese Christian militia suffered two fatalities when a road mine detonated by remote control exploded as an SLA patrol passed by just west of Jezzine, north of the security zone. Another road mine found nearby was safely defused.
The Islamic Resistance, a coalition led by Hezbollah, claimed responsibility in a statement issued in Sidon. IDF officers vowed to keep up the pressure until Hezbollah attacks on the SLA and on Israeli soldiers ended.
On Friday, air force planes raided a base of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command in the Ein Hilweh refugee camp near Sidon. It was Israel’s 11th air raid over southern Lebanon since May 21.
Reports from the scene said two guerrillas and four Palestinian civilians were wounded.
The IDF said a single-story sports club serving as headquarters was destroyed.
The Syrian-backed PFLP-GC, headed by Ahmed Jabril, claimed credit for the ambush of an IDF convoy in southern Lebanon on May 27 in which one soldier was killed and two wounded.
The Syrian foreign minister, Farouk al-Sharaa, charged that the Israeli offensive was a deliberate attempt to undermine the peace talks.
He accused Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir of ordering IDF ground and air attacks in southern Lebanon to stir anti-Arab sentiments in Israel and benefit Likud in the June 23 elections.
That policy is “pushing the region into confrontation,” the Syrian minister said. He said Syria did not seek a confrontation with Israel, “but if Israel does, we will respond and not sit idle.”