Hizbullah fires barrage on Israeli base from Lebanon

Special to World
Thursday, January 23, 2003

TEL AVIV After five months of quiet, Hizbullah has launched a missile and mortar attack on an Israeli military base along the northern border with Lebanon.

Israeli military sources said Hizbullah fired at least 50 anti-tank missiles and mortars toward a military outpost in the disputed Shebaa Plateau. The sources said nobody was injured, but the Hizbullah fire caused significant damage to the facility.

Israeli artillery and aircraft responded with a barrage in southern Lebanon. There were no reports of casualties. Lebanese sources reported that Israel resumed artillery fire toward southern Lebanon on Wednesday.

The Hizbullah attack shattered five months of quiet around the Shebaa Plateau, claimed by Hizbullah to be Lebanese territory. Hizbullah did not immediately claim credit for the barrage.

At the same time, Israeli police captured a vehicle filled with 300 kilograms of explosives and gas cannisters in northern Israel. The car was stopped near the Israeli city of Umm El Fahm and four people fled the scene in what officials termed was a plan to blow up an Israeli civilian installation.

Israeli officials said Hizbullah has been restrained by Syria from heating up the Israeli-Lebanese northern border. They said Hizbullah has sought to open a second front with Israel as a U.S.-led war against Iraq appears imminent.

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