Monday, March 1, 1999 Published at 23:18 GMT
World: Middle East
Israeli general killed in Lebanon
Israel is coming under severe pressure to withdraw its forces
A senior Israeli general has been killed in southern Lebanon in an ambush by Hezbollah guerrillas.
The general was killed together with two other Israeli soldiers and a journalist when a powerful remote-controlled bomb exploded shortly before midday (1000 GMT). They were in an convoy travelling near Israeli military headquarters at Marjayoun.
General Gerstein was the chief officer in charge of liaison with Israel's local militia allies, the South Lebanon Army.
In Beirut, Hezbollah claimed reponsibility for the attack and vowed to continue fighting Israel until it withdrew from south Lebanon.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned that Israel would not stand for such attacks.
He said: "Certainly, Israel cannot tolerate these kinds of repeated attacks on its territory, on its citizens, and its soldiers, and Israel will know what to do in response."
The bombing of the convoy was the second serious blow to Israel in the space of a week. Five days ago, three Israeli soldiers were killed and five wounded in a fierce battle involving helicopter gunships and warplanes.
The clashes in have sparked demonstrations in Israel by groups calling for the withdrawal of troops from Lebanon.
But Hezbollah and other guerillas are fighting to evict Israel and the South Lebanon Army.
The Israeli Government has recently raised the prospect of negotiating a withdrawal, but it wants the Syrian-backed Lebanese Government to agree to security guarantees first.
For their part, the Lebanese insist on an unconditional withdrawal in line with a 1978 UN resolution.
The BBC's correspondent in Jerusalem, Hilary Andersson, says this latest incident is one of the most embarrassing defeats in some time for the Israelis. And it is likely to prompt a public outcry in a country with a conscript army.