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Hezbollah Fires Rockets on Israel

May 18, 1999

KIRYAT SHEMONA, Israel (AP) _ Hezbollah guerrillas fired Katyusha rockets on northern Israel before dawn Tuesday, the army said, apparently in retaliation for Israeli rocket fire that killed two Lebanese civilians.

The attack came as Labor leader Ehud Barak was celebrating his victory over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Monday’s elections, repeating his promises to extract Israel from its war in south Lebanon within a year.

Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the unspecified number of rockets that fell in the western and northern Galilee, the army said in a statement. The Shiite Muslim group had vowed to avenge the Israel attack hours earlier.

In that attack, an Israeli guided missile struck the center of Zaoutar Esh-Sharqiyeh village late Monday, killing two 19-year-old cousins who had been walking through the village square.

It was not clear what prompted the attack on the village, seven miles northwest of the border with Israel and outside the border zone occupied by Israel.

Earlier Monday, Israeli warplanes fired missiles at a valley nine miles southeast of the port city of Tyre, an area believed to be used by Lebanese guerrillas as a base for attacks on Israeli troops and their allied South Lebanon Army militiamen in the occupied zone.

There were no reports of casualties from the raid, which was confirmed by an Israeli army spokesman in Jerusalem.

A Hezbollah statement condemned the attack on Zaoutar Esh-Sharqiyeh as a violation of a 1996 understanding to spare civilians on both sides of the border.

``It is a serious violation and a gross aggression that we cannot remain silent on,″ the statement broadcast on Hezbollah TV said.

In the Katyusha attack, four people were slightly injured and a fifth was in serious condition. Most of the rockets hit unpopulated parts of north Israel.

With rising troop casualties, pressure has increased to withdraw Israeli troops from a self-proclaimed security zone in south Lebanon. Hezbollah is the main Lebanese guerrilla group fighting to drive Israeli troops from the zone.

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