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Israeli warplanes fire at Lebanese target

Israeli warplanes on Wednesday fired missiles at a suspected guerrilla hideout in south Lebanon, a move Israeli officials said came after Hezbollah gunners fired on Israeli jets.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Israeli warplanes fired missiles at a suspected guerrilla hideout in south Lebanon on Wednesday, shortly after Hezbollah gunners fired on Israeli jets, security officials said.

The Lebanese officials in southern Lebanon said two Israeli fighter jets fired a total of four missiles at a valley near the village of Zibqine, seven miles southeast of the port city of Tyre and four miles north of the Israeli border.

Hezbollah officials in south Lebanon said at least four air-to-surface missiles were launched in the afternoon attack.

Black smoke billowed from the area. There was no immediate word on casualties.

In Israel, the army said jets “targeted and destroyed” two Hezbollah posts.

The Israeli airstrike, the first in south Lebanon since March, came two hours after Hezbollah anti-aircraft guns fired on Israeli warplanes flying over the region.

Earlier Wednesday, shells from Hezbollah anti-aircraft fire landed on an Israeli community along the border, the Israeli army said. No one was hurt.

The Lebanese army command said four Israeli planes fighter jets violated Lebanese airspace over southern and central Lebanon, and anti-aircraft batteries “confronted” them before the planes returned to Israel.

Lebanon repeatedly has complained to the United Nations about Israeli reconnaissance flights, and Hezbollah has made it policy to retaliate for Israeli overflights by firing anti-aircraft fire at the planes. Some of the shells crash across the border in Israel.

The Israeli military said Hezbollah has continued to target Israeli towns “under the guise of anti-aircraft fire.”

“The state of Israel is determined not to allow terror acts emanating from the border with Lebanon,” the army said.

The last Israeli airstrike in Lebanon was March 23, when Israeli helicopter gunships fired on gunmen in the south, killing two and wounding one. The gunmen were preparing to launch rockets into Israel, according to Lebanese security officials.

The Israeli military commander responsible for the northern border with Lebanon, Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz, accused Hezbollah of deliberately aiming at targets inside Israel.

“This is not anti-aircraft fire. It was carried out under cover of anti-aircraft fire and it was deliberately aimed at our towns and communities,” he told Israeli Army Radio.

The region has been relatively quiet since Israel withdrew its forces in 2000 after an 18-year occupation.

Hezbollah, which waged a guerrilla war against the Israelis, has repeatedly clashed with Israeli soldiers. Israel has launched airstrikes and artillery attacks against guerrilla positions.