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Israeli jets strike militant bases in Lebanon

/ Source: The Associated Press

Israeli warplanes attacked Palestinian militant bases in Lebanon Sunday in response to a rocket attack on northern Israel, Lebanese officials said. One militant was killed and at least five were wounded.

The Lebanese army said six rockets were fired at a base in eastern Lebanon while several others hit a base near the Mediterranean coast.

“Lebanese army anti-aircraft units opened fire at the hostile warplanes,” the army said.

The jets targeted two militant command posts, one of which was used as a storage facility for weaponry and ammunition, the Israeli army said.

The planes carried three raids on a base of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command in Sultan Yacoub, a village about 3 miles from the Syrian border, Lebanese officials told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Lebanese Red Cross ambulances took the slain militant and the five wounded from Sultan Yacoub base, the officials said.

The jets then carried out air raids on the hills outside the town of Naameh, 12 miles south of Beirut, where the PFLP-GC Palestinian militant group also has bases.

“Israel attacked this morning one of our positions in the western sector of the Bekaa Valley,” in eastern Bekaa Valley, Anwar Raja, the PFLP-GC representative in Lebanon, told The AP.

Raja later told Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television that one guerrilla was killed and six were wounded. He did not say whether the casualties were in Sultan Yacoub or Naameh.

Later Sunday, the Lebanese army sent a bulldozer to the PFLP-GC base near Sultan Yacoub to help remove rubble from the entrance of a tunnel, security officials said.

Palestinian militants did not allow the Lebanese troops into their base, and said two of the Israeli rockets had not exploded, the officials said.

Israeli soldier lightly wounded in strike
The airstrike came hours after militants in Lebanon fired rockets at northern Israel. One soldier was lightly wounded in the rocket attack, the Israeli army said.

Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group, which is known to have thousands of rockets in southern Lebanon, had no comment on the attack. Hezbollah usually claims responsibility for attacks it carries out.

A senior Israeli military official, who spoke to The AP on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said six to eight Katyusha rockets were fired at Israel overnight.

At least three of them fell in Israeli territory, about eight five miles from the Lebanese border near the northern town of Tsfat.

One of the rockets fell inside a military base on top of Mount Miron, the Israeli official said. Mount Miron is the burial place of several famous rabbis and is considered holy to many Jews.

The rocket attack came two days after a car bomb killed two officials from the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad in southern Lebanon. Islamic Jihad blamed Israel for the bombing and vowed to retaliate harshly.

Islamic Jihad’s representative in Lebanon, Abu Imad Rifai, refused to comment on the rocket attack Sunday.

The Israeli official said the army believed the rocket attack could have been in retaliation to the assassination of the Islamic Jihad officials. Israel has denies responsibility for the killings.

“The State of Israel holds the Lebanese government responsible for any terror attack emanating from its territory, and will respond severely to such attacks,” the Israeli army said in a statement.

Israel will present a complaint against Lebanon to the U.N. Security Council over the rocket attack, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev.

Regev said Lebanon must comply with Security Council resolutions calling on Lebanese militias to disarm. “As long as these extremist groups remain armed, they are a threat to stability,” he said.

A U.N. official in southern Lebanon said the world body had opened an investigation into the militant attack.