Israel Raids Lebanon Base of Guerrillas Blamed for Glider Attack

From Times Wire Services

Israeli warplanes struck "terrorist bases" in southern Lebanon on Saturday night, hitting the headquarters of a guerrilla unit responsible for a hang-glider raid on northern Israel that killed six soldiers, the military said.

Lebanese security sources said five people were killed and 11 wounded in the strikes on the Druze-held town of Jiye in the Shouf district, 15 miles south of Beirut. The dead included three Druze militiamen, a civilian woman and a Palestinian guerrilla, the sources said.

The Christian Voice of Lebanon radio confirmed that the Israeli planes struck Jiye and also reported that the town of Damour was hit in the raid.

The Israel Defense Forces said its targets were bases used as headquarters of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command led by Ahmed Jebril.

Jebril's group claimed responsibility for the Nov. 25 attack on an Israeli army base near the northern town of Kiryat Shemona by a guerrilla who flew across the Lebanese border on a motorized hang glider.

The guerrilla tossed grenades and opened up with machine-gun fire inside the base, killing six soldiers and wounding seven others before he was killed. It was the bloodiest attack inside Israel in nearly a decade.

"The air raid was carried out as a constant policy of war on terrorist bases in Lebanon," the Israeli military said.

"All the planes returned home safely, and the pilots reported good and accurate hits," the military announcement said.

The Lebanese sources said one member of Jebril's group was killed and six others wounded in the attack on Jiye even though many of Jebril's fighters had fled the base after the glider attack in Israel in anticipation of a retaliatory strike.

Separately, Israeli helicopter gunships fired rockets Saturday into two southern villages held by rebels of the pro-Iranian group Hezbollah (Party of God), destroying houses, the state-run Beirut radio reported.

No casualties were reported in the mid-afternoon attack on the villages of Maydoun and Ein el Tineh, the radio said.

An Israeli army spokesman in Jerusalem said the helicopters came under fire and fired back.

Beirut radio said two U.S.-made Cobra gunships attacked after a firefight between Hezbollah guerrillas and militiamen of the Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army.

Druze warlord Walid Jumblatt, meanwhile, threatened to rekindle Lebanon's dormant civil war and shell Christian ports after the Christian-dominated Lebanese army imposed a sea blockade on ports Saturday in Druze-held territory.

Druze gunners also fired at an Israeli gunboat off the Beirut coast, but there were no reports of damage.

The blockade was imposed on shipping along a 12-mile strip running south of Beirut that is held by Druze fighters and is the lone sea resupply link for Jumblatt's 4,000-strong militia.

It came two days after an army officer defected in a missile-equipped helicopter from an air base near Juniyah, the Christians' main port, to the Druze stronghold in the Shouf Mountains southeast of Beirut.

The Druze militia ignored an army ultimatum to return the helicopter by Friday.

In a statement from Amman, the Jordanian capital, Jumblatt called the sea blockade "a declaration of war."

"If war they want, so be it. We are ready to take on the army," the Muslim-run Voice of the Nation radio quoted him as saying.

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