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JERUSALEM – While Israel’s television networks broadcast continuous coverage of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s resignation and call for new elections today, Hezbollah fired dozens of rockets at Israeli neighborhoods along the Lebanese border, prompting Jewish residents to hide in bomb shelters and the Israeli Defense Forces to respond with artillery.
The attack follows warnings by Israeli military officials that Syrian and Iranian-backed Hezbollah has been trying to draw the Jewish state into a confrontation. An Israeli diplomat also has warned that Iran recently supplied Hezbollah with 10,000 new missiles.
Hezbollah shot Katyusha rockets and mortars from its positions in southern Lebanon into Israeli communities at Har Dov, near Israel’s border with Syria and Lebanon. Four Israeli troops were injured, one critically.
Hezbollah terrorists also fired light arms at Israeli farmers working in fields near the border.
Jewish residents in and near border towns were told to enter private and community-owned bomb shelters. The Israeli Defense Forces responded with artillery fire at Hezbollah positions.
Moshe Sasonkin, a rabbi stationed at a community near the Lebanese border for the world Chabad Jewish outreach movement, said he was stunned by the Hezbollah attack.
“I don’t remember such a situation in all of the 16 years that I have lived here,” Sasonkin told Shturem.net, a new online Chabad news site. “This is the first time that there was a direct hit [on our community.] The IDF cut off all eletricity in the city, we are told to stay put in our shelters, close the windows and not light any cigarettes. This is war.”
Israel’s northern border with Lebanon has been on high alert the past two weeks, with intelligence officials warning information indicated Hezbollah has been planning to attack Israeli towns and kidnap Israeli civilians and soldiers in a bid to draw Israel into a conflict.
A senior security official told WND last week that Syria is “being internationally isolated and is under extreme fire” because of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in February, for which Damascus has been blamed in a recent United Nations report.
“Syria needs a distraction,” the official said, “they need a conflict with Israel.”
The official also said Israel would “respond carefully to any attack. We will not give [Syrian President Bashar] Assad the conflict he wants.”
Today’s rocket fire comes after Israel’s new deputy ambassador to the UnitedStates, Jeremy Issacharoff, warned Iran supplied Hezbollah with more than10,000 short-range rockets, most of which have been deployed in southern Lebanon within reach of Israel.
The rockets, some of which were also funded by Syria, have a range of up to110 kilometers – about 68 miles, Issacharoff announced last week at a conference on Iran.
“In Israeli terms, that range can be a heavyweight,” said Issacharoff.