TEL AVIV (Jul. 14)
Israeli jets and helicopters staged mock raids over Lebanon on Wednesday, as Israeli military and political leaders continued to consider options for responding to attacks last week that left five Israeli soldiers dead.
Israeli officials declined to comment on reports from Beirut of a continued massive buildup of Israeli troops and military equipment in the border security zone Israel maintains in Lebanon.
Lebanese reports described the Israeli mock raids, in which illuminating flares were dropped over Palestinian refugee camps, as “dummy bombing raids designed to panic the local population.”
Israeli officials did note with satisfaction media reports that the Lebanese government, in agreement with Syria, had ordered Palestinian leader Ahmed Jabril of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command to leave the country immediately and that he had, in fact, already returned to his headquarters in Damascus.
His group claimed responsibility for at least one of two attacks on Israeli troops last week that together left five Israeli soldiers dead and eight wounded.
Jabril, dressed in an army uniform and armed with a Kalachnikov rifle, met with his supporters at a base in the Ein Hilweh refugee camp near Sidon and later spoke with reporters.
Lebanese papers said it was the first overt public appearance by a senior Palestinian leader on Lebanese soil since the 1982 war in Lebanon, when Palestinian guerrillas were driven out of the country.
According to Lebanese newspapers, authorities there are pressing the “Palestinian leadership” in Lebanon to prevent an escalation in attacks against Israeli targets.
The papers said the struggle to get Israel out of Lebanon should remain a “local Israeli-Lebanese dispute” and not be complicated by “foreign terrorist fighting.”