Amal, Hezbollah violence kills 8 Lebanese civilians

JERUSALEM — At least eight Lebanese civilians, including women and children, were killed and several others wounded Sunday when Amal and Hezbollah blasted homes in the security zone with mortars and Katyushas.

Some rockets landed in the western Galilee without causing any injuries or damage.

"This is cold-blooded murder of innocent people living in the security zone," Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai said. Mordechai, who expressed his condolences to the bereaved families, said the bombardment was a blatant breach of the Grapes of Wrath understandings.

Maj.-Gen. Amiram Levine told reporters that the attacks followed a series of setbacks for Hezbollah and Amal.

He said that at least four Amal gunmen and one from Hezbollah had been killed and several others wounded in the recent wave of incidents.

"What should be clear to Amal and Hezbollah is that the [Israel Defense Force] will continue to act against them and assist the [South Lebanese Army] and will not let them rest," he said. "Even when they try to take cover in the villages [north of the security zone], we will find ways to hit them, though we adhere to and will continue to abide by the Grapes of Wrath understandings.

"Firing into villages and hitting innocent civilians, as well as into Israel, cannot continue and won't be ignored."

Israel is to submit strong complaints over such incidents to the five-nation Grapes of Wrath monitoring group.

Two IDF soldiers were lightly hurt in another part of the zone during the heavy fighting, which blasted asunder the relative quiet that has prevailed in south Lebanon in the past two weeks.

The Israeli air force twice struck at terrorist targets north of the zone in response to the Amal and Hezbollah bombardments.

In an earlier incident, IDF soldiers killed four Amal gunman in what Lebanese sources described as a long-range clash, which occurred as Amal gunmen were apparently trying to fire mortars at an SLA position not far from the coast.

The incident was followed by heavy Amal and Hezbollah shelling of IDF and SLA positions along the length of the security zone. The two IDF soldiers were lightly wounded.

The heaviest bombardments, however, were in the western sector, where as many as 20 Katyushas and mortar rounds hit Beit Leif village, near the northern edge of the security zone.

Eight people, including a young girl and her 16-year-old brother, were killed in the bombardment and several others were wounded. The brother and sister died in Haifa's Rambam Hospital.

Dr. Zvi Ben-Ishai, deputy director of the hospital, said the mother of the two dead youngsters was among those admitted. He said she was in serious condition in the hospital's intensive care unit after undergoing surgery for chest wounds.

Doctors at Rambam Hospital canceled work sanctions when the hospital was told to expect casualties from south Lebanon.