TEL AVIV Ñ Hizbullah has widened the scope of its attacks against
Hizbullah gunners have fired 357 mm anti-aircraft artillery from Lebanon
toward a range of northern Israeli towns on Saturday. In all, 26 shells fell
in communities and damaged homes and cars. Nobody was injured in the attack.
It was one of the largest Hizbullah attacks against Israel in a year and
comes amid a declared ceasefire by Palestinian insurgency groups. Iran and
Hizbullah have opposed the Palestinian ceasefire and are said to have
financed new attacks.
Hizbullah has asserted that its anti-aircraft shelling is meant to stop
Israeli warplanes from entering Lebanese air space. But Israeli military
intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Aharon Farkash-Zeevi said Israeli aircraft had
not entered Lebanese air space in more than 50 percent of reported incidents
of Hizbullah artillery attacks.
"This seems to be the only way for Hizbullah to pursue its policy of
holy war," Farkash-Zeevi told Israel state radio on Sunday.
The Hizbullah shelling comes amid what Western diplomatic sources said
has been a drop in insurgency operations in the disputed Shebba plateau,
along the Israeli-Syrian-Lebanese border. Hizbullah officials have confirmed
the reduction of attacks on Israeli positions in the plateau, but denied
that this was the result of U.S. or Syrian pressure.
"Our resistance operations are carried out in light of specific policies
and political considerations and have nothing to do with the situation in
Iraq," Hizbullah politburo chief Ibrahim Amin Sayed said.
Israeli officials said Hizbullah also wants to be included in plans to
release Palestinian prisoners held by the Jewish state. They said Israeli
military intelligence have concluded that the bodies of three people found
in the Bekaa Valley last week were not those of Israelis. Three Israeli
soldiers have been missing since their tank unit was ambushed in the battle
at Sultan Yaakoub in 1982.
On Sunday, Israel's Cabinet discussed the release of hundreds of
Palestinian prisoners as one of a series of gestures to bolster the
government of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. Several
Israeli ministers said they would oppose the release of prisoners who were
convicted of killing Israelis.