Club Med village in Israel hit by rockets

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The Independent Online
Lebanese guerrillas fired Katyusha rockets into a Club Med holiday village in northern Israel yesterday, killing a French cook and wounding eight other people. The attack was in response to Israeli shelling the previous day which killed a woman in a village in Lebanon.

The Club Med in Paris said it was evacuating the resort in western Galilee after it was hit by rockets fired from across the Lebanese border by Shia Muslim Hizbollah guerrillas fighting to force Israel to withdraw from a nine-mile-wide zone north of the Israeli frontier. Two Israeli planes retaliated by attacking what they described as Hizbollah targets in Lebanon.

There are growing demands by Israeli politicians, particularly those on the right, that Syria be held accountable for the actions of Hizbollah. The Likud leader, Benyamin Netanyahu, said yesterday: "We cannot and must not accept a situation in which a proxy war is being waged against us by Syria and at the same time we are being asked to make far-reaching concessions to Syria on other fronts."

Israel has some 1,000 troops in Lebanon supported by 3,000 Israeli-armed militia known as the South Lebanon Army. Three Israeli soldiers were killed an ambush last Sunday, as was a member of the SLA during the week. The Lebanese woman killed by Israeli shells, provoking yesterday's rocket attack, was the thirteenth civilian to die as a result of Israeli bombardment this year.

The increasing breakdown of the July 1993 accord, under which Hizbollah undertook not to shell Israel and Israel said it would stop shelling civilian settlements in south Lebanon, will cast a shadow over the three-day talks between the Syrian and Israeli chiefs of staff which start in Washington on Tuesday.

In Gaza, the Hamas militant Islamic organisation said that the killing by gunmen of Mahmoud al-Khawaja, a mid-level Islamic Jihad leader, meant the end of an unofficial suspension of attacks on Israeli targets and the beginning of a "black phase". Retaliation by Hamas and Jihad might disrupt negotiations between Israel and the PLO which have a target date of July 1.

In a leaflet distributed after Khawaja's funeral, Hamas threatened attacks on Gazans collaborating with Israel.

Senior officials of the Palestinian Authority say privately that they believe that the assassination was carried out by an Israeli undercover squad, but that it is also possible the killing was the result of a split within Jihad which, like Hamas, is divided over continuing its military campaign.

The PLO chairman, Yasser Arafat, by a mixture of persuasion and pressure from his security services, has got Hamas and Jihad to agree to an unofficial ceasefire which has halted suicide bomb attacks on Israelis. There have been no attacks within Israel since that at Beit Lid on 22 January and none in the Gaza Strip since Kfar Darom on 9 April.

The Israeli army says that, with the exception of the latter attack, the last four months have been the quietest since the start of the Palestinian uprising in 1987. Shin Bet, the Israeli internal security service, reportedly believes that this will not last unless there is an agreement on Israeli redeployment from Palestinian population centres by 1 July - to be followed by an election .

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