BEIRUT, Lebanon – Israeli warplanes attacked a Palestinian militant base Monday south of Beirut, Lebanese security officials said. In Jerusalem, the Israeli military confirmed an airstrike near the Lebanese capital, saying it was in retaliation for a missile fired at an Israeli naval vessel earlier in the day.
The attack was the closest to Beirut since Israel withdrew its troops from the south of the country in May 2000.
Lebanese officials said the Israeli planes fired at least four rockets at targets in the hills at Naameh, about five miles south of Beirut. Palestinian guerrillas of the Syrian-backed Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command maintain an underground base in the Naameh hills.
There were no immediate reports of casualties.
The attack comes several hours after rockets were fired toward Israel from south Lebanon. A Lebanese official in south Lebanon said three rockets landed on the outskirts of the border town of Naqoura, just yards short of the border, while a fourth rocket fell in the Mediterranean sea. Authorities were investigating who was behind the attack, the official said, speaking on customary condition of anonymity.
An Israeli army spokeswoman, Maj. Sharon Feingold, said the rockets had been fired at an Israeli naval vessel patrolling Israeli territorial waters. She spoke before the airstrike was launched.
Israeli warplanes frequently struck the Popular Front base at Naameh during Israel’s occupation of south Lebanon.