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Israel Strikes Hezbollah After Shebaa Farms Attack


At least three Hezbollah militants and one Israeli soldier were killed and ten others wounded Monday night in clashes along the Israel - Lebanon border.

Israeli warplanes struck Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon after Hezbollah militants attacked the divided border village of Ghajar and targets in the disputed Shebaa Farms area.

The clashes, which are continuing, are described as the worst in five years. The fighting is the first in the area since June when Hezbollah attacked Israeli army positions along the border, killing one Israeli soldier.

Israeli authorities say the Hezbollah attack was unprovoked. Israeli media reports say the attack was an attempt by Hezbollah to kidnap Israeli soldiers in a bid to exchange them for Lebanese prisoners held by Israel.

At a news conference Monday night called to discuss the latest political developments in Israel, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said the clashes were a reminder to Israelis that their northern border remains dangerous.

Mr. Sharon says the clashes should remind Israelis of why they need to pay attention to security in the region, and of the efforts Israelis need to take to continue fighting terrorism.

A statement from Hezbollah says the fighting began when Israeli troops crossed into Lebanese territory at the border village of Ghajar.

Israeli military authorities say among the targets struck were a Hezbollah command post and a number of roads in southern Lebanon.

Hezbollah, which the U.S. State Department describes as a terrorist organization, has been under pressure to disarm. Last year the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution that calls on all militias in Lebanon to disarm, something Hezbollah says it will not do.