Israel in Revenge Blitz on Hezbollah Bombers

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID SHAW

ISRAEL launched a massive offensive against Lebanon last night in revenge for a bomb ambush that killed four people, including one of its top young generals.

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered a ground, air and sea assault against key Hezbollah strongholds as citizens along the border were rushed into bomb shelters.

Amid fears that the crisis could inflame the Middle East, the U.S.

called on Israel, Lebanon and Syria to exercise 'maximum restraint'.

Brigadier General Erez Gerstein, 38, who was in charge of army liaison with the UN, was the highest-ranking military casualty for 17 years.

The others killed when guerillas detonated two roadside bombs were two soldiers and a 32-year-old Israel Radio reporter, Ilan Roeh.

They were hit as they travelled in a convoy four miles into the nine-mile deep Southern Lebanon occupation zone. It was the second serious blow to Israeli morale in less than a week.

Last Tuesday the Islamic militants

ambushed a unit, killing its commander and two other officers and wounding five soldiers.

The latest attack came as Mr Netanyahu was in the Jordanian capital Amman meeting the new King Abdullah, and as Israelis

protesting against the continuing death toll in the Lebanon clashed with police outside the defence ministry in Tel Aviv.

Parents of Israeli soldiers killed or wounded have voiced ever louder protests about the never-ending war against the Iranian-funded Hezbol-lah fighters, who have vowed not only to end the Israeli occupation but also to destroy the Jewish state.

Mr Netanyahu said before returning to Israel: 'We cannot tolerate repeated attacks on our soldiers and our people. …