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Israel Attacks Militant Base in Lebanon - 2004-06-08


Israeli warplanes attacked a Palestinian militant base south of the Lebanese capital, Beirut, late Monday. Israel described the strike as a signal to Lebanese authorities that they are responsible for what goes on in their territory.

The Israeli military said two of its jets fired at targets in the hills near Naameh village, some 20 kilometers south of Beirut. They say the targets were positions in a large base maintained by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.

A spokesman for the Syria-based Palestinian group said the base no longer has any military purpose and the staff had left before the air strike.

The Israeli military issued a statement after the attack saying the strike was carried out in response to a rocket attack from Lebanese territory at an Israeli naval vessel in Israeli territorial waters in the Mediterranean.

The statement quoted Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz as saying Israel holds the Lebanese and Syrian governments responsible for attacks initiated from within its borders. Mr. Mofaz said Israel is determined stop what he called terror acts emanating from Lebanon.

Lebanese President Emile Lahoud condemned the attack. The Beirut newspaper Al Nahar reported Tuesday that Lebanese officials are investigating who launched the rocket attack at Israel.

Syrian-supported Palestinian militants have used bases in southern Lebanon often in the past to launch strikes at Israel. The most recent occasion was in late March of this year. At that time, Israel responded with an attack by helicopter gun ships that left two Palestinian militants dead and one wounded.

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