BEIRUT, DEC. 21 -- Hundreds of Iranian-backed Shiite Moslem guerrillas attacked the Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army at dawn today in what they called a show of solidarity with Palestinian protests in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel.

In retaliation, the Israeli-equipped and trained South Lebanon Army, under cover of Israeli helicopter gunships, fired rockets and shelled the townships of Habboush, Arab Salim, and the Christian town of Jezzine, according to reports from the area. State-run Lebanese television put the toll of dead and wounded at 30, but local radio stations gave conflicting accounts of the losses on both sides.

The Voice of Islam, a radio station of the militant Shiite Hezbollah faction, said the early morning attack was a "gift from the Islamic Resistance to the Moslems of occupied Palestine."

"It was a big attack to salute our struggling brothers in the occupied land. These attacks will surely boost their morale and give them an incentive to continue," an Islamic Resistance official said in Beirut.

{In Cairo, about 2,000 students demonstrated at Ain Shams University in solidarity with the Palestinian uprising, United Press International reported. They called on Egypt to break relations with Israel. Egypt delivered a verbal protest to Israel's ambassador, urging Israel to end "oppressive" measures and respect Palestinian rights, UPI said.

{News agencies reported statements of support for the Palestinians from a number of Arab leaders. In Kuwait, which has a large Palestinian population, and the United Arab Emirates, residents stopped all work and traffic in a minute of silence to show their sympathy.}

The day-long fighting in southern Lebanon coincided with a general strike by Palestinians within Israel and in the West Bank and Gaza Strip protesting the killing of demonstrators by Israeli troops in the occupied territories.

The radio of the South Lebanon Army, the Voice of Hope, said hundreds of Hezbollah fighters charged against one of the militia's outposts on the fringe of the Israeli-declared security zone.

Local media reports quoted Israeli radio as saying that at least five of the Islamic Resistance fighters were killed in the assault against the Army. Sources in southern Lebanon said they believed the casualty toll among the attackers was much higher and that at least a dozen could not be evacuated because of the shelling. The hospitals reported six dead and at least 20 wounded, among them children on their way to school.

The Islamic Resistance movement said its men destroyed a tank and two armored personnel carriers belonging to the Israeli-backed Army. But the movement did not refer to any of its own casualties. There was no independent confirmation of these reports.