Guerrillas strike back after Israeli air raids

Killing of Hizbollah chief sparks south Lebanon's worst strife this year

FROM ROBERT FISK

in Beirut

The Israeli assassination of a leading Hizbollah official in southern Lebanon provoked reprisal and counter-reprisal across the Israeli frontier last night, as Hizbollah guerrillas fired Katyusha rockets into Galilee and Israeli planes made six air raids on Lebanon. In the worst day of violence in the south of the country this year, an Israeli soldier was killed when an ambush he was setting up for Hizbollah gunmen was ambushed by the Hizbollah. Another Israeli was wounded.

The Israelis, whose gunboats have been blockading 20 miles of Lebanese coastline for the past six weeks, must have known that their attack on Rida Yassin would provoke a day of fighting; the Hizbollah has always responded to such assassinations with Katyusha fire into Galilee. But the guerrillas clearly never imagined that the Israelis would stage a repeat performance of their assassination of the Hizbollah leader, Sayed Abbas Moussawi, just over three years ago. Sayed Moussawi's car was ambushed by a missile-firing helicopter - which is just what happened to Rida Yassin yesterday.

Driving before dawn on a narrow road near Dirdghaya east of Tyre, he could not have known that two Israeli Cobra helicopter gunships were following. He may never have known what happened when the pilots fired the radar- guided missiles - believed to be American Hellfires. One exploded inside the vehicle, burning Yassin and an aide alive, while the other set fire to trees and bushes, initially hindering rescue workers.

Within hours, Israeli jets commenced bombing Hizbollah-controlled villages in the Iqlim el-Tuffah district east of Sidon - the scene of hundreds of Israeli air raids over the past five years - while four more helicopters airlifted 50 Israeli soldiers into artillery positions of the Israeli- commanded "South Lebanon Army" militia. A fierce bombardment of eight villages left at least three Hizbollah wounded. At midday, a squad of Israeli troops flown into the village of Sojod were attempting to set up an ambush inside their occupation zone when they were surprised by the men they were hunting and forced into a fire fight. One Israeli was killed.

By dusk came the inevitable Hizbollah counter-attack, withKatyusha rockets falling in Galilee, killing one Israeli and wounding six, security sources said. The bombardment seemed certain to prolong the fighting as Israelis retaliate for the Hizbollah retaliation. Abbas Moussawi's assassination set off a week of cross-border bombardments and the killing of Rida Yassin is likely to mean at least another day of fighting.

Andrei Kozyrev, the Russian Foreign Minister, flew into Beirut yesterday to discuss the Middle East "peace process" with the Lebanese government. He promised that Russia would try to "brush aside" obstacles facing Syrian- Israeli peace talks and insisted that difficulties in Middle East negotiations "require an active Russian participation to push them forward".

On the fighting in the south, he took the line usually adopted by the US Secretary of State, Warren Christopher: that the bloodshed should accelerate efforts towards peace. This odd policy - based on the principle that peace gets closer the greater the numbers killed - has always annoyed the Lebanese government, which believes that Israel's strategy is to punish Lebanon for not making a separate peace.

As for the Americans, they routinely call "on all sides to exercise restraint" whenever fighting in southern Lebanon appears to be out of control. There seemed little doubt that the Americans would be saying the same thing again very soon.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
i100
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model of a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution