Lebanese: IDF tried to kidnap senior Hizbullah member
Lebanese army officials say special IDF forces fail in attempt to kidnap senior Hizbullah member from hospital near Baalbek; Lebanese media say mark may have been Hizbullah High Council member Sheikh Muhammad Yazbek; eyewitnesses report gun battles, casualties at scene
Lebanese media said the mark may have been Sheikh Muhammad Yazbek, a member of Hizbullah’s High Council and one of 12 senior organization members.
It remains unclear whether the operation was successful, but witnesses said “the Jews took some people with them.”
IDF troops prepare to enter Lebanon (Photo: Reuters)
Hizbullah's chief spokesman, Hussein Rahal, told The Associated Press that Israeli troops landed near Dar al-Hikma Hospital and that fierce fighting was raging after more than one hour.
"A group of Israeli commandos was brought to the hospital by a helicopter. They entered the hospital and are trapped inside as our fighters opened fire on them, and fierce fighting is still raging," Rahal said.
Rahal said Hizbullah was using automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, and that Israeli jets were attacking the surrounding guerrilla force with rockets.
He dismissed as "untrue" reports that the Israeli commandos managed to snatch some patients from the hospital and spirit them away in helicopters.
Eyewitnesses inside the hospital told Al-Arabiya that exchanges of fire are taking place inside the hospital and that there are numerous casualties at the scene.
Several senior Hizbullah members reside in Baalbek, and the organization maintains a number of civilian and military institutions in the city.
According to reports, the operation began with at least six rapid air strikes, after which IAF choppers attempted to land ground forces in the city’s western sector.
A Lebanese army outpost in the town of Shlifa, west of Baalbek, was also attacked.
Flares held aloft by parachutes lighted the night sky to a daytime brilliance, a Lebanese official said.
It was also reported that Israeli jet fighters attacked targets in the city of Hermel, 75 miles north of the border with Israel in the Bekaa Valley, and Hizbullah said it attacked an IDF outpost in the Shebaa Farms on the border.
Meanwhile, Al-Manar aired images of what it said was “booty” left behind by IDF forces near Kila in south Lebanon. The photos released were of two-way radios, shoes, canteens, and other military equipment. It is not clear when the photos were taken.