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Farmer Killed in S. Lebanon Attack

December 7, 1999

TYRE, Lebanon (AP) _ An Israeli tank fired on a field in southern Lebanon, killing a farmer and wounding two workers, Lebanese security officials said Tuesday.

The attack is likely to provoke an escalation of the conflict in southern Lebanon. In the past guerrillas have responded to the killing of Lebanese civilians by firing rockets across the border into northern Israel.

The tank, based in the zone Israel occupies along Lebanon’s southern border, opened fire on suspected guerrilla infiltrators Monday night, sources in the occupied area said on condition of anonymity.

Lebanese security officials said the tank’s shells had killed Ahmed Ibrahim Daoud, a 50-year-old farmer, and wounded two Syrian laborers.

The men appear to have been irrigating a field at night to avoid detection near the front line between the government-controlled sector and the Israeli-occupied zone by the village of Mansouri, about 10 miles north of the Israeli border.

In Jerusalem, the Israeli army declined to respond immediately to the shelling, which was reported on Israeli radio.

The Lebanese officials said that in a separate incident two Israeli jets blasted suspected guerrilla hideouts in south Lebanon with rockets. No casualties were reported from the strike near Loueizeh, 12 miles north of the Israeli border. But an Israeli military spokesman denied any such air raid on Tuesday.

Lebanese officials said the tank incident would be discussed by the international monitoring group at its Tuesday meeting. The group, which comprises representatives of five nations, oversees a 1996 accord that prohibits attacks on civilians.

Early Tuesday, guerrillas attacked an Israeli outpost in Bayyada in the occupied zone early Tuesday and Israeli artillery responded, Lebanese security officials said.

A small guerrilla group, Lebanese Resistance Brigades, said in a statement issued in Beirut that its fighters inflicted casualties on the Israeli troops in Bayyada. It is one of several militias battling to eject the Israeli military from the zone.

In a statement, the Israeli army said guerrillas had fired anti-tank and mortar shells at two of its positions in the occupied zone and four outposts manned by the Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army militia. The army said there were no casualties.

Israel has occupied the border zone since 1985 in a bid to shield its northern towns from cross-border guerrilla incursions.

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