Israel repeats strikes on Beirut

airport rocket attacks

April 12, 1996
Web posted at: 12:00 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT)

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli military helicopters struck Beirut suburbs Friday in the second attack in as many days on the Lebanese capital. Wire reports say the raid wounded at least 12 Syrian soldiers.

An attack Thursday on the reputed headquarters of Hezbollah guerrillas was the first Israeli assault on Beirut since 1982.

U.N. sources said four Israeli helicopters fired at suspected Hezbollah targets one mile west of Beirut airport.

Israel on Friday also warned civilians in southern Lebanon to leave the area or face Israeli bombs aimed at wiping out Hezbollah locations. The warning came after guerrillas fired more rockets into northern Israel Friday morning, answering Israeli attacks into southern Lebanon that killed four people a day earlier.

At least one woman was seriously hurt Friday morning when a Hezbollah rocket struck her car as she drove through deserted streets in Kiryat Shmonah. Other injuries also were reported.

Israel's latest wave of attacks, begun on Thursday, was in response to a barrage of Katyusha rocket attacks in northern Israel from Hezbollah's south Lebanon posts.


Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres defended the strikes at a news conference Friday morning.

"I want to make clear that if they think that Kiryat Shmonah is an inviting weakness, Beirut can easily become as well an inviting weakness," he said. (191K AIFF sound or 191K WAV sound)

Israeli government spokesman Uri Dromi said the attacks were necessary to protect Israeli citizens.

"When we were forced (Thursday) to take action, it was the minimum possible," Dromi said. "We went out of our way not to strike at civilian targets, unlike the Hezbollah is doing." (196K AIFF sound or 196K WAV sound)

Rocket blast victim

But Israel raised the stakes Friday morning after at least two Hezbollah rocket attacks struck civilian areas in northern Israel. Israel promptly warned civilians in the border area to leave.

"We made it clear that if people in Kiryat Shmonah are subject to this kind of thing there's no way in which people in Lebanon will just live calmly," Dromi said.

Thousands of villagers fled from 18 Lebanese villages, clogging roads and emptying several villages, after the South Lebanon Army, an Israeli ally, broadcast the announcement over its Voice of the South radio.

CNN Correspondent Jerrold Kessel and Reuters contributed to this report.

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