Hizbollah makes explosive return: Israel's proxy militia under fire in south Lebanon

IT WAS business as usual in south Lebanon yesterday. Anti-tank rockets and mortar bombs were fired at three posts manned by Israel's proxy militia, the South Lebanon Army (SLA). They hit targets in Sojoud, Rihan and the Ghazlan hills. Lebanese security officials said the attack, launched from a stronghold of Iranian-backed Hizbollah Islamic fighters, was the fiercest since a ceasefire brokered by the United States halted Israel's seven-day blitz of south Lebanon last month.

The Israelis could be forgiven for asking what their intervention had achieved. Yet it was never going to put an end to Hizbollah attacks. The chunk of Lebanese territory Israel has carved out as its security zone is designed to aborb and contain hostile actions. The SLA act in effect as human sandbags. And so long as Israelis in south Lebanon or northern Israel do not become targets again, Israel's retaliation is likely to be limited.

The flare-up of violence has political as well as military dimensions. Its aim was to show that fighters in the area were still active and would continue to hit at Israeli targets so long as Israel occupied Lebanese territory. A Hizbollah leader, Sheikh Khodor Noureddine, told a rally in south Lebanon on Monday: 'There has been no direct or indirect agreement between the resistance and the enemy and operations will never stop. If our villages and the houses of our people in the south . . . are bombed, we will respond with Katyusha rockets.'

Hizbollah gunmen fired at an Israeli patrol on Monday in their first attack on Israel's forces in south Lebanon since the ceasefire. No casualties were reported.

The attacks are a message to the Lebanese authorities as well as to Israel. That Hizbollah had no intention of suspending operations became clear after the meetings in Tehran in the past few days between the Hizbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah and President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

One declared strategic aim of Israel's operation in south Lebanon was to encourage the Lebanese government to do more to extend its new- found authority to the south to curb Hizbollah's freedom of action. Lebanese efforts to send troops to the south have met a rather more formidable obstacle: Syria. Syria was miffed that Lebanon should take such a step without first obtaining the green light from Damascus. Syria has always insisted that no party - Lebanese, Palestinian or whatever - should take action which could threaten its security interests and bring about an Israeli intervention at a time not of Syria's choosing. This explains why President Elias Hrawi of Lebanon was summoned to Damascus on Monday to be brought to heel.

Political sources said that President Hafez al-Assad told Mr Hrawi that a large deployment of Lebanese troops could lead to a confrontation between the army and Hizbollah guerrillas and strengthen Israel's long-standing demand for security arrangements with Lebanon.

In the end, a symbolic force of 300 soldiers was sent to four of the 70 villages in the zone held by peace-keepers of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.

In their reports of the meetings the state-controlled media in Syria said that the two countries agreed to put the Middle East peace process back on track. State-run Radio Damascus said in a commentary that Arabs had experienced a 'relative rise in spirit' about the peace process.

The note of hope underlines the fact that, for Syria, the peace process could not be derailed by Israel's incursion into Lebanon, which killed 147 people and drove 300,000 from their homes. The US and Russia, as co- sponsors, have invited Israel and the Arab parties to the 11th round of talks on Middle East peace in Washington at the end of the month.

Suggested Topics
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album