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Tags: Israel | Bombs | Syrian | Radar | Lebanon

Israel Bombs Syrian Radar in Lebanon

Monday, 16 April 2001 12:00 AM

Lebanese media sources reported several Israeli planes attacked the fortified position surrounded by tanks, killing three people and wounding five others.

Israel said it launched the raid because it has been subjected to repeated terrorist attacks "with the knowledge and under the auspices of Syria." On Saturday, an Israeli soldier was killed in a cross-border attack.

A statement from an Israeli army spokesman issued in Tel Aviv shortly after the attack said the Syrian radar station was located at Daher al-Baydar, on the hills overlooking the Lebanese Bekaa Valley. All planes returned safely, the IDF spokesman said.

A cabinet statement noted, "Israel has carried out in its entirety Resolution 425 of the United Nations Security Council, and it is deployed along the border as determined by the U.N."

However, "Israel, nevertheless, has been subjected to repeated terrorist attacks along its northern border," said the statement.

Resolution 425 calls for strict respect for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized boundaries.

In Saturday's attacks, Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas fired anti-tank missiles across the U.N.-set Blue Line at an Israeli tank killing its commander, Staff Sgt. Elad Litvak.

It was the eighth "terror attack along the northern border since the withdrawal from Lebanon," the government statement said. "During these incidents three IDF soldiers were killed and three others were kidnapped."

Hezbollah has assumed responsibility for the attack, as Israel has lodged formal complaints with the U.N., United States and France. U.N. Secretary General Koffi Annan instructed his representative in Beirut, Staffan de Mistura, to raise the matter with Lebanese President Emille Lahoud and Prime Minister Rafic Hariri.

The Israeli government statement targeted Syria saying "Until now, Israel has demonstrated great restraint in the face of these attacks, despite the appeal to Syria to exert its influence on Lebanon. Syria ... whose army is situated in Lebanon - has not lifted a finger."

Hezbollah cannot operate without Syrian permission, the Israeli statement added, and Israeli intelligence says that Hezbollah receives its arms from Iran via Syria.

Hezbollah has been concentrating its attacks in an area the Lebanese refer to as Shabaa Farms and Israel calls Mount Dov. Lebanon claims the area is Lebanese, but the U.N. has not recognized its demand that Israel pull out of there as well. Israel said it captured that area from Syria, not Lebanon.

Some ministers in the new Israeli government have all along argued that Israel need not focus on Hezbollah, a Shiite militant organization, but address the Lebanese and Syrian governments who should be responsible for whatever happens north of the border.

Some Israelis have suggested that Syria has been preventing the Lebanese army from deploying its troops along the border, asserting its authority there, and preventing cross-border attacks.

The Israeli government statement accordingly said it "calls upon the government of Lebanon to deploy its army along the border, and calls upon Syria and Lebanon to respect and carry out U.N. Security Council Resolution 425."

Earlier Sunday, the personal representative of de Mistura, said Hezbollah made grave "miscalculations" when its guerrillas attacked an Israeli tank.

The U.N. official said that Annan asked him to immediately contact Lahoud and Hariri over "this very regretful incident" which occurred "in a way and place that represent a clear violation of Resolution 425 and the Blue Line as far as the U.N. is concerned."

De Mistura said the Blue Line was breached in a "violent way" when Hezbollah carried out its Saturday attack, prompting the U.N. to express its concern over the incident.

Speaking after a meeting with Hariri in Beirut, he said the Hezbollah attack came at a time when the Middle East and Lebanon were experiencing a "very special phase" and expressed fears that "those who carried it (attack) might have gravely miscalculated their own goals."

The Lebanese al-Mustaqbal newspaper, owned by Hariri, Sunday also criticized Hezbollah for its attack, saying it was an example of "wrong timing." Hezbollah has so far remained silent and refrained from any comment on the newspaper's criticism. However, Hezbollah official in southern Lebanon, Sheikh Nabil Qawook, said the Saturday attack was meant to "fortify" Lebanon's position in Shabaa against Israel and to "defend the Lebanese sovereignty."

In a front-page article titled "Shabaa farms: operation of the wrong timing," al-Mustaqbal asked why the Islamic Movement, Hezbollah's military arm, "chooses to carry out an attack in the occupied Shabaa farms at this particular time?"

The newspaper questioned what were "the internal and foreign calculations on which the resistance based itself in its decision to carry out this operation yesterday?" and whether "the circumstances facing Lebanon today bear such an operation with what would result in political, economic and social consequences."

It also questioned whether the decision to carry out the Saturday attack, the first by Hezbollah since Feb. 16 when guerrillas fired a missile killing one soldier was "a wise decision and whether its timing suits Lebanon's higher interests?"

"These are frank and probably rude questions that derive from the higher national interests and need frank, clear and quick answers due to the critical phase Lebanon and the region are passing through," al-Mustaqbal said, reminding Hezbollah that the victory achieved with the liberation of south Lebanon from 22 years of Israeli occupation "belong to all Lebanese."

"What is required is that the resistance readiness be a positive element in the government's strategy to liberate the occupied land and be a deterrent to any possible Israeli aggression and not an obstructing factor - even unintentionally - to this state strategy."

Three Israeli soldiers have been killed along the Lebanese border since Israel withdrew to the Blue Line last May. Last October, Hezbollah fighters abducted three Israeli soldiers from the Shabaa area and proposed to exchange them with Lebanese, Palestinian and Arab detainees held in Israeli jails.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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Lebanese media sources reported several Israeli planes attacked the fortified position surrounded by tanks, killing three people and wounding five others. Israel said it launched the raid because it has been subjected to repeated terrorist attacks with the knowledge and...
Monday, 16 April 2001 12:00 AM
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