Monday, March 1, 1999 Published at 07:39 GMT
World: Middle East
Israel bombs Lebanon
Israelis hid in bombshelters in case of revenge attacks
Israeli warplanes have carried out intensive air raids in Southern Lebanon in response to the killing of four Israelis by Hezbollah guerrillas on Sunday.
The overnight assault was one of the heaviest and most widespread for several months.
The army said a number of Hezbollah targets were hit, including what is described as the organisation's headquarters in Baalbek in the eastern Beka'a Valley. At least one raid took place close to the Lebanese capital, Beirut.
The Lebanese Information Minister, Anwar Khalil, has told the BBC of unconfirmed reports of civilian deaths in villages hit by Israeli forces.
Fearing revenge attacks, the Israeli army ordered civilians living along Israel's northern border to spend the night in air raid shelters. No attacks were reported, but the all-clear had not been given by dawn.
BBC Middle East Correspondent Paul Adams says Israel might be poised to launch a substantial attack along the lines of Operation Grapes of Wrath, a largely unsuccessful but extremely bloody Israeli operation three years ago.
On Sunday, Israel said it would wage "a ground, sea and air assault" in response to the Hezbollah attack, which killed an Israeli general, two other soldiers and an Israeli journalist.
However, Mr Netanyahu will be wary of following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Shimon Peres, who launched Grapes of Wrath on the eve of elections. The operation was widely criticised and he lost the poll.
On Sunday evening, Mr Netanyahu said: "We have no desire whatsoever to escalate in Lebanon but neither can we sit aside and accept these criminal attacks."
Senior officer killed
The four Israelis died when a powerful remote-controlled bomb exploded shortly before midday (1000 GMT) on Sunday. They were in a convoy travelling near Israeli military headquarters at Marjayoun.
In Beirut, Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the attack and vowed to continue fighting Israel until it withdrew from Southern Lebanon.
Earlier in the week, three Israeli soldiers were killed and five wounded in a fierce battle involving helicopter gunships and warplanes.
Both incidents have sparked demonstrations in Israel by groups calling for a withdrawal from Southern Lebanon.
The Israeli Government 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.