Lebanese military find and defuse rockets

Oct. 28, 2009 at 5:34 PM
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BEIRUT, Lebanon, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Lebanese military and U.N. peacekeepers are searching an unoccupied house after the army defused four Katyusha rockets, three of them set with timers.

The rockets were mounted on home-made launchers, officials said.

The house, in Hula village, several miles from Lebanon's southeastern border with Israel, is also the scene of a rocket launch earlier this week. The target was the Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona, a regular target of Katyusha rocket attacks.

Israel retaliated with several rocket launches, but there were no casualties on either side of the border. However, in Kiryat, a town of 22,000, the rocket started a grass fire, according to the Israel News Network.

No group has claimed responsibility for the rocket launches from the house in Hula.

Israel again charged that the Lebanese government is responsible for all attacks on Israel launched from Lebanese territory, INN reported. Israel's Ambassador Gabriella Shalev filed an official complaint with the United Nations and noted that Israel has repeatedly warned that Hezbollah, the militant Shiite Islamic movement in Lebanon, is rearming since the end of the second Lebanon war in 2006.

Hezbollah is required to disarm in the border region under the U.N. cease-fire that brought hostilities to an end in 2006.

A spokeswoman from U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon said that UNIFIL "immediately launched an investigation" into the rocket fire from Hula.

The border area near Hula and Kiryat remains a dangerous area even when rocket attacks are not taking place. A report in the Beirut Daily Star 10 days ago noted that three suspected Israeli so-called spy devices were blown up near Hula.

No details of exactly what the devices were or what they did were given, although in the past they have been described as small bombs hidden inside fake rocks.

Two of the devices were detonated remotely by the Israeli army and one destroyed by the Lebanese army, according to a Lebanese military official.

It "seems the two detonations were triggered by Israel which exploded two spying devices it had planted in the sector a long while ago," the official said. Israel "feared for one reason or another that they might be discovered and proceeded to destroy them by exploding them remotely."

Cross-border hostilities go back to the 1948 Arab-Israeli war when Hula was the scene of an alleged massacre by Israeli troops.

Kiryat Shmona, founded in 1949 on the northern tip of Israel less than a mile from the Lebanon border, has its own troubled history. The town is no stranger to Katyusha rocket attacks, having received more than 1,000 strikes during the 2006 fighting between Israel and Lebanon.

Kiryat was also the scene of an April 1974 civilian massacre by three members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who crossed from Lebanon. They entered an apartment building and murdered all of the 18 residents, including nine children.

The Kiryat Shmona slaughter was a driving force behind the 1978 Operation Litani when the country's military occupied south Lebanon up to the Litani River.

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