Israel destroyed most of the military positions of Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas along its northern border, in the heaviest fighting since it ended its 18-year occupation of south Lebanon, an Israeli commander said yesterday.
Sunday's rocket and artillery exchanges killed two Hezbollah guerrillas and wounded two Israeli soldiers.
An Israeli newspaper, meanwhile, reported that Iran has equipped Hezbollah with rockets capable of hitting all of Israel's major cities, including Beer Sheva in the south. The Haaretz daily, citing intelligence sources, said the rockets have a range of about 200km, or double that of weapons previously in Hezbollah's arsenal.
The Israeli commander, Brigadier General Gal Hirsch declined to comment on the Haaretz report.
However, he said Iranian weapons in the hands of Hezbollah, including mortars and missiles, pose a real threat to Israel.
Sunday's cross-border fighting began when Hezbollah fired Katyusha rockets from Lebanon at Israel's northern Galilee region, hitting an air force base, then attacked Israeli outposts along the border.
In response, Israel unleashed its fiercest artillery barrage since withdrawing from Lebanon in 2000.
"Our main effort was to destroy the frontline that Hezbollah has built in the last six years," said Hirsch, who commands an Israeli army division along the border.
Hirsch said Hezbollah had established dozens of frontline outposts along the border with Israel.
"We destroyed most of them," the commander said in a telephone interview.
Hirsch said the Israeli military was ready for a Hezbollah attack, having prepared a contingency plan.
"We were waiting for them for weeks," he said.
Witnesses in the border region said several Hezbollah outposts were heavily damaged or destroyed by the Israeli shelling and air raids.