Muslim Militants Fire Rockets Into Holiday Village; One Killed
AHZIV, Israel (AP) _ Club Med crafts instructor Franck Etienne was asleep in a straw hut on the resort’s beach in western Galilee when rockets slammed into the ground nearby early Friday.
``I heard explosions all around me. I got down under the bed, and they (rockets) kept falling,″ said Etienne, who was hit in the leg by shrapnel from rockets fired by guerrillas in Lebanon.
``When I got out, I saw two huts destroyed and a man lying on the floor,″ the 28-year-old Frenchman said from his hospital bed.
A 24-year-old French butcher for the resort was killed in the barrage. His name was not released.
Eight employees and guests were slightly injured _ four from France, one from Spain and three from Israel, including an 8-year-old boy.
Israel retaliated with airstrikes and artillery fire against strongholds in southern Lebanon of the Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah.
Israeli leaders accused Hezbollah of trying to sabotage Israeli-Syrian peace talks that are to resume in Washington next week. They also demanded that Syria _ the de facto power in Lebanon _ do more to rein in Hezbollah.
``We have to start our negotiations with Syria, and we would expect the Syrians to take stronger steps and show greater involvement in pacifying the area,″ said Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.
The army commander for northern Israel, Maj. Gen. Amiram Levine, warned Hezbollah on Friday that if it kept targeting civilians, Israel would take aim at villages in south Lebanon which the guerrillas use as bases.
Hezbollah’s attack came a day after a Lebanese villager was killed in Israeli shelling.
A senior Hezbollah official in south Lebanon, Sheik Nabil Kaouk, said Friday the group was ``committed to retaliating for every aggression against peaceful, unarmed civilians.″
Hezbollah opposes peacemaking with Israel and has sworn to drive Israeli troops from the self-proclaimed ``security zone″ they occupy in southern Lebanon.
The area hit Friday endured a similar attack last week. No one was killed or badly hurt. Residents complained that the attacks were hurting tourism, which is in peak season.
In Friday’s attack, several Katyusha rockets hit the Ahziv Club Med and a nearby Israeli kibbutz shortly after 6 a.m. There were no injuries at the kibbutz.
At Club Med, dozens of grim-faced tourists in shorts and bathing suits left the holiday village after the attack.
An official with the Paris-based Club Mediterranee group said all guests and employees were evacuated from the 500-bed resort which was fully booked at the time.
The resort has a mainly Israeli clientele. It has been evacuated several times in the past during periods of tension. Like all Israeli resorts, it has an underground shelter.