JERUSALEM (Nov. 24)
Shi’ite gunmen killed at least seven Lebanese civilians and wounded 15 others this week when their mortar shells missed Israeli targets and hit a Lebanese village instead.
The shelling was part of three days of fighting that ended a monthlong period of relative calm along Israel’s tense northern border.
Some of the Lebanese wounded in Sunday’s shelling were taken to Israeli hospitals for treatment.
Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai condemned the shelling as a breach of the cease-fire understandings reached last year after Israel launched Operation Grapes of Wrath to protect its northern border.
Mordechai charged that the fundamentalist Shi’ite organizations Amal and Hezbollah were openly violating the U.S.-brokered understandings, which were designed to keep civilians out of the circle of hostilities in southern Lebanon.
Two Israeli soldiers were lightly wounded in Sunday’s mortar attacks near the Lebanese village of Beit Lif, located about two miles from the Israeli border.
Katyusha rockets also fell inside the Israeli border, but did not cause any damage or injuries.
On Monday, Israel retaliated by launching air and ground assaults on Shi’ite targets in southern lebanon. Israeli officials said that three Shi’ite gunmen were killed in the ground fighting.
Sunday’s violence followed clashes the night before between Israeli forces and Amal fighters in the security zone.
Security sources in Lebanon were quoted as saying that four Amal gunmen were believed to have been killed in that fighting.
The renewed violence prompted fresh calls in Israel for a withdrawal from southern Lebanon.
Labor Knesset member Yossi Beilin, who recently founded a movement to lobby for an Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, said the latest events were further proof that the security zone was not protecting Israel’s northern communities.