Beirut – Israel violated a UN-imposed truce with Lebanon Saturday, August 19, after a warplane and commandos raided a Hizbullah stronghold in eastern Lebanon and struck a power plant in the village of Bodai.
Lebanese security source said warplanes and helicopters attacked unidentified targets during an air drop of commandos at dawn around Bodai, west of the ancient city of Baalbek in the Bekaa Valley, Reuters reported.
Israeli security sources confirmed that the army had carried out a raid in Lebanon on Saturday, Israel radio said..
Hizbullah denied in statements to Al-Jazeera satellite channel that three of its fighters had been killed in fierce clashes with Israeli commandos.
Hizbollah television reported its fighters clashed with Israeli commandos near Bodai and forced them to fly out under the cover of air strikes. It said the guerrillas had inflicted “certain casualties” among the Israeli forces.
Lebanese security sources told Reuters that helicopter-borne Israeli commandos in two vehicles were on their way to attack an office of senior Hizbullah official Sheikh Mohammed Yazbek in Bodai when they were spotted and ambushed by the fighters.
The sources said the Israeli force suffered six casualties before pulling out under the cover of fierce air strikes.
They added that the Israeli aircraft bombed roads leading to the village, a power plant and a hillside to the west.
Israeli security sources confirmed that the army carried out a raid in Lebanon, but gave no further details.
Such an assault is the first major attack since a UN truce ended 34 days of fighting between Israel and the Lebanese resistance movement Hizbullah.
A UN-ordered “cessation of hostilities” halted on Monday the war between Israel and Lebanon after at least 1,183 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and 157 Israelis, mostly soldiers, were killed.
It ordered Israel to end all offensive action in Lebanon and Hizbullah to end all attacks on Israel or Israeli forces, the deployment of the Lebanese army and a beefed up UN peacekeeping force in south Lebanon.
The United Nations was acing against time to reinforce the interim UNIFIL in southern Lebanon.
The Israeli ambassador to the United Nations said Friday that his country objected to include countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel in the planned UN force.
“It would be very difficult if not inconceivable for Israel to accept troops from countries who do not recognize Israel, who have no diplomatic relations with Israel,” Dan Gillerman told the BBC.
Malaysia and Indonesia have each offered to send 1,000 troops to Lebanon. Both countries, with Muslim majority populations, have no diplomatic ties with Israel.
Gillerman said Israel would be “very happy” to accept troops from Muslim countries it has friendly relations with.
“But to expect countries who don’t even recognize Israel to guard Israel’s safety I think would be a bit naive,” he said.
Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar dismissed Gillerman’s remarks, saying, “we’re going to be on Lebanese territory … we’re not going to be on Israeli territory.”
In response to reporters’ questions, Mark Malloch Brown, the UN deputy secretary-general, said “the final word” on troop deployment was up to the UN
Malloch Brown said he had discussed the issue with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on her visit to UN headquarters on Wednesday, and “I think they are reflecting on it.”
Objections from Israel could complicate efforts by the United Nations to quickly assemble a force for southern Lebanon to stabilize a truce between Lebanon and Israel.
A UN Security Council resolution calls for the deployment of up to 15,000 troops, including a 2,000-strong UN force in Lebanon since 1978.
But a senior UN official said he doubted enough countries would come forward to reach that goal any time soon.
The United States urged France, which has offered only 200 new troops, to increase its contingent.
France’s reluctance to contribute more troops has disappointed UN and US officials, who expected Paris to take a lead role.
The French military has hesitated following a loss of 58 paratroopers to a suicide bomb attack in Beirut in 1983 and some 84 soldiers in Bosnia in the early 1990s, Reuters said.
The United Nations wants to field an advance force of 3,500 troops by Sept. 2 and hopes to have the entire complement in place by November 4.