JERUSALEM (Aug. 13)
Hezbollah gunmen in southern Lebanon may now possess Katyusha rockets that would enable them to target the Israeli cities of Acre and Carmiel.
The findings of recent Israeli intelligence reports were offered Tuesday by the Israel Defense Force chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Amnon Shahak.
Shahak told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the Islamic fundamentalist Hezbollah group might have obtained Katyushas that have a range of up to 25 miles, longer than ever before.
The chief of staff said the reports had not yet been confirmed, but added that the militant group had dispersed its supply of Katyushas throughout southern Lebanon and would be able to quickly organize an attack against northern Israel.
Shahak said that in addition to the rockets, Hezbollah had been stockpiling various weapons, and that Syria, the main power broker in Lebanon, had not done anything to limit Hezbollah supplies.
His remarks came as the IDF disclosed that in a clash Sunday, Israeli troops killed three gunmen belonging to a joint squad of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Both of the militantly anti-Israel organizations are based in Damascus. Their presence in southern Lebanon may indicate that Hezbollah is getting reinforcements as well as supplies with Syrian consent.
According to the IDF, Israeli troops saw the three gunmen in the eastern sector of the security zone. The troops opened fire, killing the gunmen. There were no casualties on Israel’s side.
Based on the weapons found in their possession, the IDF spokesman said the army believes that the gunmen were on their way to carry out an attack against the IDF or the Israel-allied South Lebanon Army.
The IDF also believed the three might have been planning to carry out an attack in northern Israel.
In April, Israel launched a 16-day artillery and air blitz against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon in a move aimed at stopping Katyusha rocket attacks against Israeli communities along the northern border.
The cross-border fighting ended April 27 with a U.S.-brokered cease-fire that barred either side from firing on or from civilian areas.
The agreement did not regulate or limit fighting between the two sides within the security zone.