BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  World: Middle East
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Wednesday, 3 April, 2002, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
Israel and Hezbollah exchange fire
Israeli soldier scans border with Lebanon
A border escalation would be "very serious", says the UN
Israeli soldiers and Hezbollah guerrillas have exchanged fire for a second day, amid heightened tensions along Israel's northern border.

Lebanese security officials reported no casualties, and the exchange was described as "very limited and restrained," by Timur Goksel, the spokesman of a UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon.

Smoke bellows from a hilltop in the Shebaa area after firing on Saturday
The Shebaa area has been a flashpoint since Israel pulled out of Lebanon
On Tuesday Israeli warplanes attacked suspected Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon in an apparent retaliation for attacks on Israeli army positions in the disputed Shebaa area.

In an apparently unrelated development, Syria has agreed to redeploy its approximately 20,000 troops stationed in Lebanon to areas near the Lebanon-Syria border.

"An agreement has been reached on practical steps to redeploy units of the brother Syrian army to complete the Taif accord... and to be carried out within one week," said a Lebanese army statement.

The 1989 Taif accord, reached towards the end of Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war, stipulated that Syrian forces would pull back towards the Syria-Lebanon border as the Lebanese Government got back on its feet after the war.

Israel warns Syria and Lebanon

Israel on Tuesday demanded that the United Nations take action to prevent new guerrilla attacks.

A foreign ministry spokesman warned that Israel was effectively putting Syria and Lebanon - which back Hezbollah - on notice that it would act against border provocations.

Lebanese Red Cross workers try to help Lebanese woman Amal Abdel Aal, 41, who was hurt during an exchange of artillery fire and rockets between Hezbollah and Israel
A Lebanese woman was wounded in Israel's attack
Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon nearly two years ago, after two decades of occupation.

The UN has endorsed Israel's withdrawal as complete. However Lebanon, Hezbollah and the Syrians claim the Shebaa area is Lebanese territory.

Lebanese officials said Israeli jets fired at least three rockets on targets south of Chouba village late on Tuesday after Hezbollah guerrillas fired mortar rounds and rockets at Israeli positions in the Shebaa area close to the Lebanese-Syrian border.

The clashes halted after about 80 minutes.

At least one woman was wounded by a rocket blast in Chouba.

Hezbollah said one of its fighters had been killed "while carrying out his task in the framework of holy war".

Hezbollah 'deploying on border'

At the UN in New York, the Israeli Government delivered a letter to Secretary General Kofi Annan, warning that recent attacks against Israeli civilian and military targets could have "alarming consequences on the stability of the region."

The letter from Foreign Minister Shimon Peres urged Mr Annan to intervene immediately and persuade the governments of Lebanon and Syria to take steps to prevent violations of Israel's northern border.

Israel says that in the past two weeks, armed groups have launched several attacks on Israeli military and civilian targets.

Mr Peres also said there is growing evidence that in recent days Hezbollah have started deploying armed men along the "blue line" monitored by the UN separating Israel and southern Lebanon.

See also:

01 Apr 02 | Middle East
Gunmen fire on Israel from Lebanon
31 Mar 02 | Middle East
Israel warns Syria over Lebanon
12 Mar 02 | Middle East
Six Israelis die in ambush
13 Feb 02 | Middle East
Lebanon hears case against Sharon
24 Jan 02 | Middle East
Lebanon's cocktail of hatreds
18 Mar 02 | Middle East
Timeline: Lebanon
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Middle East stories