Thursday, December 29, 2005

Israeli Jets Kicking Ass And Taking Names

Israeli jets attacked a Palestinian militant group's training base in southern Lebanon early Wednesday, hours after an Israeli border town was hit by rocket fire, the military said. The strike against the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command was Israel's deepest inside Lebanon since June 2004.
Lebanese witnesses reported hearing explosions as warplanes roared over the guerrilla base of the Syrian-backed group, which has been waging a decades long fight against the Jewish state. "This is in response to the firing of projectile rockets last night toward Israeli communities," the Israeli military said. It said it views such attacks with "extreme severity" and holds Lebanon responsible. There was no word on casualties or damage in the raid, which came after three rockets landed in a residential area of Kiryat Shemona. The army said the rockets damaged some property but caused no injuries. Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group and the mainstream Fatah Palestinian faction denied involvement in rocket attack. In Wednesday's raid, the witnesses said two explosions were heard as the planes struck at the group's base, a maze of concrete fortified tunnels built inside a hill five miles south of Beirut. Two missiles were fired at the attackers. Lebanese troops at a checkpoint confirmed an air raid and sealed off the area, preventing journalists from approaching. Israeli warplanes struck the same base in June 2004 to retaliate for a rocket attack on an Israeli naval boat. The raid came a month after Israeli jets attacked a command post of the Hezbollah guerrilla group in south Lebanon, responding to Hezbollah rocket and mortar attacks that wounded 11 Israeli soldiers and damaged a house in a border community.
Israel withdrew from an occupied enclave in southern Lebanon in 2000. While fighting in the area has dropped since then, the border remains tense and Hezbollah frequently targets Israeli troops in the disputed Chebaa Farms area. Lebanon and Syria say Chebaa Farms is Lebanese territory, but U.N. cartographers who surveyed the border after the Israeli withdrawal said it belongs to that part of Syria which Israel has occupied since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Israel says it will discuss control of the area only in future peace talks with Syria. The PFLP-GC's commander is headquartered in Syria but the group maintains military bases in Lebanon, where it is accused of taking orders from Syria in support of its policies in Lebanon. The PFLP-GC has carried out some high-profile attacks against Israel since it was formed in 1968: It hijacked one Israeli airliner, machine-gunned another at Zurich's airport, and then blew up a Tel Aviv-bound Swissair plane, killing all 47 aboard.