APRIL 15, 1996
Updates from Israel and Lebanon on the shelling back and forth across that border. Alex Thompson and Gaby Rado of Independent Television News report.
ALEX THOMPSON, ITN: Anti-aircraft defenses opening fire as Beirut comes under Israeli air attack once more, the fourth time it's happened since Thursday. Two Apache assault helicopters rocketed the capital's southern Hezbollah-controlled suburbs. Officially, the Israelis have now killed twenty-seven civilians, injured more than a hundred. Government and United Nations have no evidence of any Hezbollah soldiers being hit. There were certainly none here, and the Israelis knew that when they rocketed an electricity station in Christian East Beirut. The widening of targets continues, all part of the strategy to increase pressure on the Lebanese government. Across the South, steady shelling all day long in towns like Nabatir and Tyre. The Israelis said another seven villages must be evacuated on top of the forty-eight already targeted. About 7,000 refugees are sheltering in U.N. bases like this one in the southern city of Tyre. They think they're safe here from shelling. Everyone we spoke to says they want only their land back, not the destruction of Israel, itself.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: If one take your land, what do you do? If one take your house, what do you do? You kill him or not. You say to him go from your home, we want our land. We want to live like--like a Libyan man, like gentleman, like English.
ALEX THOMPSON: Hezbollah is the critical factor. Its members were out in Beirut this morning collecting cash donations. Fifty-five would-be suicide bombers parade and check their explosive belts on a Hezbollah propaganda video released last night. The old dispute, being addressed in the ancient way by warfare.
GABY RADO, ITN: By this morning, the Israeli defense forces deployed on high ground above the Lebanese border had fired more than 5,000 shells at Hezbollah targets. In fact, the artillery bombardment in this offensive, code-named Operation Grapes of Wrath, is less intensive than in previous Israeli attacks on Lebanese territory, but say the army new laser technology makes it more accurate. That claim can't be verified, and it's known Hezbollah rocket launchers are easily moved around on trucks and even on the backs of animals.
COL. RAANAN GISSIN, Israeli Defense Force: What we want is to separate between the population and Hezbollah, and we want to ensure that Hezbollah does not use again in any other form the area as a staging ground to launch Katyusha rockets against our northern border settlement. In order for that to be accomplished, there has to be unfortunately some inconvenience to the local population. The fact that they had to leave their houses is only temporary.
GABY RADO: The presence of the Israeli army inside a strip of South Lebanon, the security zone, is a reminder that Israel was in the past prepared to occupy territory to protect is northern border. But the invasion of 1982 took place under a right-wing government, and Labor is unlikely to commit ground troops this time. It is, however, now forced to explain how its offensive is consistent with the peace process.
URI SAVIR, Israeli Foreign Ministry: I know that it sounds a paradox, contradiction that you have military activity when you fight for peace. But there is sometimes no other way to fight the enemies of peace, and you need the courage of your conviction to negotiate for peace, to compromise with those who are your allies in peace. But the same courage is needed to fight those who will do everything without scruples and inhibitions to destroy the hope for peace.
GABY RADO: The plain of Northern Galilee, a sliver of land jutting into Lebanon, is the part of Israel most vulnerable to Hezbollah attacks. This Katyusha rocket landing harmlessly in fields above the village of Metulah. The Israelis continue to strike back with artillery and aerial attacks, but as each day of the offensive passes, doubts grow as to how effectively the military and political threat from Hezbollah can be removed.