Israeli planes dropped thousands of leaflets denouncing Hezbollah guerrillas over the Lebanese capital of Beirut and its suburbs early yesterday, two days after some of the worst border clashes in southern Lebanon for several years.
Lebanese security officials said the roar of jets was heard over the city before dawn, after which thousands of leaflets were dropped. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the press.
"To the Lebanese citizens, who protects Lebanon?" read the small paper leaflet written in Arabic.
"Who is lying to you? Who is sending your children to a battle they are not ready for? Who wishes the return of the destruction? Who is the tool in the hand of his Syrian and Iranian masters?" the leaflet read.
Then in bold letters, it said: "Hezbollah is causing enormous harm to Lebanon," adding that Israel was determined to protect its citizens.
The note was signed "The State of Israel."
The Israeli army confirmed that its planes had dropped the leaflets over Beirut and its suburbs. It was the first time in many years that Israeli planes dropped leaflets over the Lebanese capital.
The move follows some of the worst fighting in at least three years that saw Islamic militant Hezbollah guerrillas attacking Israeli military outposts, and Israel pounding guerrilla positions and hideouts with artillery and missiles fired from warplanes. Four guerrillas were killed and 11 Israeli soldiers were wounded in the clashes in a disputed area of land near the border.
Hezbollah, the militant Shiite Muslim group, is a close ally of Syria and is backed by Iran. The fighting may have been ignited to take off the pressure on Syria, which is facing an international probe into the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri.
Israel, under military pressure from Hezbollah, withdrew its army from a border buffer zone in southern Lebanon in 2000, ending 18 years of occupation. Clashes have occasionally erupted since then.
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