First Published: 2004-11-16

Israel hints military reprisals against Lebanon

Israeli FM hints at military reprisals in Lebanon after two homemade rockets fired at northern Israel.


Middle East Online

Israel cannot keep its arms folded as if nothing has happened: Shalom

JERUSALEM - Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom hinted Tuesday that Israel may take military action in Lebanon after two homemade rockets were fired at northern Israel.

"Israel cannot keep its arms folded as if nothing has happened, that is why we must seriously study our political response. On the military front, we will react in a time and manner that seems appropriate to us," he told army radio.

One of the homemade rockets fired Monday exploded in a field near the Israeli town of Shlomi, several kilometres (miles) from the Lebanese border, while the other crashed into the Mediterranean, the radio said.

Neither projectile caused any damage or casualties, and were apparently fired by a Palestinian group operating in southern Lebanon under the patronage of the Shiite Muslim fundamentalist movement Hezbollah.

"It is important for Hezbollah and Palestinian extremists to stress their presence after the absence of Yasser Arafat," Shalom added of the late Palestinian leader who died last Thursday.

The Fatah chief in Lebanon, Sultan Abul Aynain, denied that Arafat's mainstream movement was involved in the rocket attacks.

"The Israeli accusations are false and completely unfounded because we have made no decision to use south Lebanon" to launch attacks, he said at Rashidiyeh refugee camp, which lies just 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the Israeli border.

"I fear these accusations could be a pretext for aggression against the refugee camps in Lebanon and our officials," he said.

The Jewish state protested on November 3 to the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon against Katushya rockets being fired into its territory from southern Lebanon.

According to a Western diplomatic source in Lebanon, a pro-Syrian radical Palestinian faction close to Hezbollah was responsible for a Katyusha attack on October 28.

On November 7, Hezbollah announced it had sent a drone over Israel. Its chief has also said the movement possesses drones that can carry explosives to strike targets deep inside Israel if the Jewish state attacks Lebanon.


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