katyusha target 298 idf.
(photo credit: IDF)
An IDF officer and a soldier were killed in fierce battles in Bint Jbail on Monday morning, the IDF announced Monday night.
St.-Sgt. Kobi Smilg, 20, of Rehovot died after his tank rode over a large explosive device. A battalion commander was also wounded in the attack.
A few hours later, another tank was hit - this time by an anti-tank missile - killing an officer.
The army also revealed that five Golani brigade soldiers were struck by friendly fire on Monday.
Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizencott said that the troops were operating near Bint Jbail when an IAF helicopter fired on them accidentally.
"We will learn our lessons... War is a complicated event, and it's impossible to prevent mistakes," Eizencott said.
The soldiers were wounded lightly to moderately.
During the operations, the IAF targeted a car carrying Hizbullah members who were fleeing a rocket-launching site on Monday afternoon, east of Tyre in southern Lebanon.
The army also struck a structure in the area being used by the guerillas.
Earlier in the day, Golani Brigade troops, tanks and combat engineers engaged in heavy fighting after pushing their way deeper into Lebanon towards the village of Bint Jbail
, branded Hizbullah's "terror capital" in southern Lebanon, located northeast of Maroun al-Ras. The troops came under attack from anti-tank missiles and sniper fire.
Thirteen IDF soldiers - including a Lt.-Col. who was moderately wounded - were evacuated to Rambam Hospital in Haifa and to Ziv Hospital in Safed, with wounds ranging from light to moderate.
The IDF reported at least 15 Hizbullah gunmen had been killed in the battle.
IDF ground forces and Hizbullah guerrillas were already engaged Monday morning in a heavy exchange of fire north of the village of Maroun al-Ras, a strongly-contested Hizbullah stronghold.
Despite sporadic gunbattles throughout the day in Maroun al-Ras - the scene of heavy fighting last week - the IDF on Sunday dispatched troops to take up positions on the outskirts of Bint Jbail.
Troops were surrounding the town's casbah in the late afternoon.
IDF sources estimated that Hizbullah had accumulated large quantities of weapons and missiles in the village, which they said would be raided as part of Operation Change of Direction launched July 12, following the abduction of two soldiers in a cross-border Hizbullah attack.
Bint Jbail, the sources said, had become Hizbullah's main base of terror operations since Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. The Shi'ite village served as a comfortable and sympathetic breeding ground, they said, for the Hizbullah, harboring some 100 guerillas.
Over the weekend however the IDF noticed that a large percentage of the village had begun to move to the north after IAF fighter jets distributed flyers warning residents there of the looming IDF raid. Sources said that only 20 percent of the 20,000 residents in the village remained alongside the Hizbullah fighters.
The army could not confirm a Channel 2 report that the Hizbullah fire came from a number of terror cells that had hidden in tunnels after the IDF gained control of the village on Saturday.
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