TEL AVIV (Jul. 22)
A few days of relative calm on the Israeli-Lebanese border was broken Thursday by exchanges of fire and clashes with guerrillas in southern Lebanon that reportedly left one Israeli soldier dead.
The atmosphere in southern Lebanon has been tense since five Israeli soldiers were killed earlier this month and Israeli reinforcements were deployed in the security zone.
But aside from the firing of a few Katyusha rockets, the area had remained relatively calm this week. That changed on Thursday, with the firing of several mortar shells from north of the border security zone toward a post of the Israeli allied South Lebanon Army near Rihan, in the eastern sector of the zone.
One Israeli soldier was reported killed in a massive bombardment of rockets and mortar shells.
An SLA soldier was reported wounded, along with several Lebanese residents.
The Israel Defense Force chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Ehud Barak, said earlier in the week that Israeli counterattacks north of the security zone were inevitable if terrorist and guerrilla forces continued to attack Israeli forces in the zone or shoot rockets into Israel itself.
Lebanese Defense Minister Mohsen Dalloul reacted sharply to Barak’s comments, saying such attacks would united all Lebanese, leading them to take up arms against Israel.
“Resistance to the Israeli occupation in south Lebanon will stop only when Israel withdraws,” Dalloul said in an interview broadcast over the Voice of Lebanon radio.