TEL AVIV (Nov. 9)
Islamic fundamentalist forces lobbed Katyusha rockets into a broad swathe of northern Israel Sunday night, forcing residents of Kiryat Shmona into shelters. Several salvos of rockets fell in an area extending from western Galilee to the Galilee panhandle, generating a number of crop fires. But they caused no casualties or other damage.
The attack followed a raid by Israeli aircraft on Hezbollah bases at Ein a- Tine, north of the Israeli-controlled security zone in southern Lebanon.
Kiryat Shmona children started school an hour late Monday morning and the authorities canceled all school trips along the border area with Lebanon.
The latest round of violence triggered public differences over Israel’s response to Hezbollah attacks amid ongoing peace talks in Washington.
Reserve Maj. Gen. Ori Orr, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, urged “wise and careful examination” of updated intelligence information before deciding on an appropriate Israeli response, with intent to calm the area.
Orr was commander of the northern sector in 1986, when similar Katyusha attacks were lobbed at Galilee, which then, too, sent residents of Kiryat Shmona into shelters. At the time, Orr said the Israel Defense Force would act swiftly against the sources of the rocket fire as soon as they were found.
Those attacks were accompanied by terrorist incidents in Jerusalem and the territories.
Following this latest attack, a former chief of staff said the Hezbollah attack was an act of war and should be responded to in kind. Knesset member Rafael Eitan, leader of the opposition Tsomet party, said 21 Katyushas had landed Sunday in Galilee.
The upsurge in violence followed a week of relative quiet after the border heated up with the killing by Hezbollah of five Israeli soldiers in the security zone and a Katyusha attack which killed a 14-year-old boy in Kiryat Shmona.
The quiet was in line with a policy of discouraging escalation, which was apparently adopted by the Israeli military establishment.
The attack by Israeli aircraft Sunday was explained as a response to the continued planting by Hezbollah of roadside bombs directed at Israeli troops and allied South Lebanese Army forces inside the security zone.
Two Hezbollah members were killed in the raid and two more were wounded. Spokesmen for the pro-Iranian terrorist organization threatened to retaliate for every life lost among their ranks.