U.S. Marine jets and other allied aircraft attacked a column of Iraqi tanks, armored vehicles and trucks -- destroying 24 of them -- in one of several cross-border skirmishes reported yesterday. Allied aircraft flew 2,600 sorties with no reported losses.

Israel attacked a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon yesterday with helicopters and gunboats after a barrage of rockets exploded in the Israeli "security zone" near the Israel-Lebanon border. Israel said it suspected that soldiers affiliated with the Palestine Liberation Organization had fired the rockets, intending them to fall across the border in Israel. Palestinian sources in southern Lebanon said the rocket firing had been ordered by PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat. Arafat denied it.

Germany dramatically increased its contribution to the Persian Gulf War effort, promising to give the United States $5.5 billion and to send military aid to Israel and Turkey. The Germans also will dispatch another 600 soldiers to Turkey.

Jean-Pierre Chevenement, the French defense minister who had openly expressed his doubts about allied strategy in initiating a war against Iraq, was forced from office yesterday. He was replaced by President Francois Mitterrand's close friend Pierre Joxe, the interior minister.

Two senior U.S. officers responsible for shipping weapons and supplies to the Persian Gulf said yesterday the U.S. should consider reopening production lines for certain military hardware to ensure against shortages in case the war is prolonged.

Security precautions at the Capitol for last night's State of the Union address were the tightest in recent memory.