About Israel strikes Beirut suburb, tightens blockade Page 4
|July 18th, 2006||#32|
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Just minutes ago two Polish Military planes have landed at Warsaw "Okecie" Military Airbase with Polish and view American, German, Slovakia evacuated citizens.
Four other military transport planes with other EU and US citizens are on their route to Poland.
Last edited by Venom PL; July 18th, 2006 at 23:00..
|July 19th, 2006||#33|
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Israel Prepares for Long Offensive
Associated Press | July 18, 2006
JERUSALEM - Israeli officials said Tuesday their offensive in Lebanon could last several more weeks and involve large numbers of ground forces, casting doubt on diplomatic efforts to broker a cease-fire.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told a visiting U.N. delegation that "Israel will continue to combat Hezbollah and will continue to strike targets of the group" until captured Israeli soldiers are released and Israeli citizens are safe from attacks.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said diplomatic efforts were under way, but a cease-fire would be impossible unless the captured soldiers are returned unharmed and Lebanese troops are deployed along the countries' border, with a guarantee that the Hezbollah militia would be disarmed.
Livni's remarks after meeting the U.N. delegation were the first indication that both sides were making significant efforts to end the weeklong conflict.
But military officials said the offensive was likely to go on, and perhaps expand.
Maj. Gen. Udi Adam, the head of the Israeli army's northern command, said the offensive against Hezbollah, which has mostly been limited to Israel's air force and navy, would continue.
"I think that we should assume that it will take a few more weeks," he told Israel's Army Radio.
The army's deputy chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Moshe Kaplinski, told Israel Radio that Israel has not ruled out deploying "massive ground forces into Lebanon."
"We certainly won't reach months and I hope it also won't be many more weeks, but we still need time to complete the operation's very clear objectives," Kaplinsky said.
Public Security Minister Avi Dichter said Israel may consider a prisoner swap with Lebanon to win the release of two soldiers captured by Hezbollah, but only after its military operation is complete.
"If one of the ways to bring home the soldiers will be negotiations on the possibility of releasing Lebanese prisoners, I think the day will come when we will also have to consider this," Dichter told Army Radio.
Hezbollah fired more missiles at northern Israel, killing one Israeli in the northern town of Nahariya and wounding several others, Israeli officials said.
Rockets also hit the northern city of Haifa.
Hezbollah has fired hundreds of rockets at northern Israeli towns from the Lebanese border since fighting began July 12, forcing hundreds of thousands of Israelis to take cover in underground shelters or flee to the south.
Israeli strikes in Lebanon raised the death toll in that country to at least 226.
Israelis strongly support the military operation against Hezbollah, according a to poll in the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot. It said 86 percent of Israelis believe the operation is justified, 81 percent want it to continue and 58 percent say it should last until Hezbollah is destroyed. The poll had a margin of error of 4.2 percentage points.
Nevertheless, Livni said, "We are beginning a diplomatic process alongside the military operation that will continue."
"The diplomatic process is not meant to shorten the window of time of the army's operation, but rather is meant to be an extension of it and to prevent a need for future military operations," she told reporters.
Israel's two-front offensive against Islamic militants began on June 25 when Hamas-linked guerrillas in the Gaza Strip carried out a cross-border attack on a military outpost in Israel, killing two soldiers and capturing one. Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas joined the fray this month, attacking a military patrol on the border in northern Israel, killing three soldiers and capturing two.
Israel has been reluctant to use ground forces because of memories of its ill-fated 18-year occupation of south Lebanon, which ended in 2000.
Livni signaled Israel might be willing to accept a temporary international "stabilization" force in south Lebanon to bolster the 2,000-strong force already there. Western nations have been proposing the increased force as part of a possible cease-fire agreement - an idea Israel had previously brushed off.
She said securing south Lebanon "requires activity by the Lebanese government, with the oversight (and) assistance of the international community." She said Israel's experience with the current U.N. force was "not satisfactory" and that it prefers no such force in the long-term.
In Belgium, U.N Secretary-General Kofi Annan said any international stabilization force must be "considerably" larger and better armed than the U.N.'s current force in Lebanon, which numbers some 2,000 troops and long has been viewed by all sides in the Middle East as ineffectual and lacking a strong mandate.
In recent days, Israeli officials have sent conflicting signals about whether Israel would demand Hezbollah's immediate disarmament as a condition for a cease-fire. Livni's comments indicated Israel would accept future disarmament, provided that Lebanon immediately deploy its own troops along the border to prevent any future rocket attacks against northern Israel.
U.N. negotiator Terje Roed-Larsen said in Jerusalem after meeting Livni that "concrete ideas" had been presented to the Israeli government to solve the crisis, and that Israel would deliberate on them in the coming days.
"I think both parties agreed that it is necessary to have a political framework in order to reach, eventually, a cease-fire," Roed-Larsen said.
He did not elaborate on the proposals.
The U.N. team, led by Annan's special political adviser Vijay Nambiar and Mideast envoy Alvaro de Soto and including Roed-Larsen, arrived in Jerusalem Monday night to try to broker an end to the week of violence.
|July 19th, 2006||#34|
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France says Israel wants to destroy Lebanon
By Philippe Naughton and agencies
President Chirac accused Israel today of wanting to "destroy Lebanon" as the United Nations sent a team of senior diplomats to the region to tackle the crisis caused by Hezbollah's abduction of two Israeli soldiers.
So far Israel has ignored international concerns about its widespread military offensive in Lebanon and also escaped a UN Security Council motion calling for it to halt its operations in Gaza last night when a draft resolution was vetoed as "unbalanced" by the United States.
Israel stepped up its actions in Lebanon today, hitting roads, bridges, fuel supplies and once again attacking Beirut airport to enforce a blockade of the country. Around 60 Lebanese have been killed since the violence flared on Wednesday after a cross-border raid by Hezbollah in which the two soldiers were captured.
M Chirac used his traditional Bastille Day live television interview to criticise the Israeli offensive. "One may well ask if there isn’t today a kind of wish to destroy Lebanon - its infrastructure, its roads, its communications, its energy, its airport," he said. "And for what?
"I find honestly - as all Europeans do - that the current reactions are totally disproportionate. In the Middle East we are currently in a situation of great fragility and instability. We are in a dangerous situation, a very dangerous situation. We must be very, very careful."
As the former administrative power in Lebanon and Syria - both of which it governed under League of Nations mandate between the two world wars - France has close political and cultural links with the region.
The scale of the Israeli offensive has put the United States in a difficult position, having to back its closest ally's right to self-defence while at the same time trying to limit the damage to the government of Fouad Siniora, the first Lebanese Prime Minister since Syrian forces left the country last year.
Mr Siniora's office announced that the Prime Minister received a call from Mr Bush today, in which he was given reassurances that Washington would press Israel to limit civilian casualties.
"Prime Minister Siniora called on President Bush to exert all his efforts on Israel to stop its aggression on Lebanon, reach a comprehensive ceasefire and lift its blockade," it said in a statement.
"President Bush stressed that he was keen on pressing Israel to contain the damage to Lebanon and to avoid inflicting harm on innocent civilians."
Mr Bush flew into Russia today for a summit of G8 leaders where the spiralling Middle East crisis is expected to dominate discussions this weekend.
The US leader was to meet his host, President Putin, for face-to-face talks ahead of the summit in St Petersburg and Mr Putin - who has also criticised the Israeli offensive as disproportionate - said those talks would focus on the conflict in Lebanon.
The crisis was also discussed in Downing Street, where Tony Blair met the Stephen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister.
"I want to emphasise just how serious I think this is," Mr Blair told reporters after the meeting. "I entirely understand the desire, and indeed need, for Israel to defend itself properly, and I also understand the plight of Lebanon and the Lebanese Government, not to say the many Palestinians that suffer as well.
"What is happening is absolutely tragic for all the people involved, but the only solution is that the international community empowers the moderates on both sides to come to a resolution."
Mr Blair said that he believed that, as soon as possible, negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian authorities must "get back on the road map toward a two-state solution, as it offers the only chance for stability and peace in the future".
The Security Council is to hold a special meeting later today to discuss Lebanon's request that it "adopt a complete and immediate position for a ceasefire" after the Israeli air strikes.
Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, is sending a three-man crisis team, led by his special political adviser, Vijay Nambiar, to try to defuse the situation. Speaking to reporters in Rome, Mr Annan said today that he was "profoundly worried" by the increase in violence and condemned any attacks on civilians.
Mr Nambiar's team will spend a week in the region, beginning in Cairo, where they will meet Egyptian officials and Arab League foreign ministers. They are then expected to travel to Israel, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon and Syria.
In a Security Council meeting yesterday, ten of the 15 Council members supported a draft resolution calling on Israel to halt its military operations in Gaza, where 86 people have been killed since Islamic militants seized a young Israeli corporal in a cross-border raid on June 25. Four, including Britain, abstained, while the United States voted against.
The vetoed resolution had condemned Israel’s retaliatory assault and called for an end to military operations and the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops. It also condemned the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel and Shalit’s abduction.
The United States, Israel’s staunchest ally, last used its veto in the Security Council in October 2004, to block a similar draft demanding that Israel end military operations in northern Gaza and withdraw from the area.
|July 19th, 2006||#35|
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Chirac is just spouting off a load of to appease the huge muslim population from the maghrib that now call France home... he'd say anything to keep them from rioting AGAIN. Perhaps he should consider what France would do were Germany to kidnap a few soldiers and launch rockets into France... oh wait, that's right they'd roll over and play dead.
"The purpose of fighting is to win. There is no possible victory in defense. The sword is more important than the shield and skill is more important than either. The final weapon is the brain. All else is supplemental." - John Steinbeck
|July 19th, 2006||#36|
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You can't use that situation on just any country that borders another. What if during the cold war the red army faction lobbed rockets into france from germany, would france raid germany? Of course not, it's not the same situation and you forget that palestine/israel is very complicated politically. I don't think the Lebanese govt can be held accountable for what one group has been doing.
I realize that hizbullah is part of the lebanese govt but i think a lot of people wished that wasn't so and it resulted from warfare with israel itself. The non militant govt is calling for peace and cease fire over things that it cannot control.
Here's an example for you:
The militia men who patrol the US/mexican border decide to teach some migrants a lesson and kidnap several illegal immigrants before they cross the border and scare off the rest. The militia is now in say, New Mexico and the mexican people are outraged. Should the US be held responsible for some one else's crimes? With all the hardline immigration minded congressmen in washington you'd think there would be some fault on their side. Do you think it would make sense for mexico to raid new mexico in order to get their citizen's back or would a diplomatic solution have been more feasible.
There are probably somethings that have flaws in them as an analogy, but i did my best to make a plausible scenario here.
bella! Horrida bella!
War! Horrid war!
There are no warlike people, just warlike leaders
|July 20th, 2006||#37|
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Israeli tells Christian group that radical Islam is the enemy
WASHINGTON Thousands attending a Washington banquet for the new group Christians United for Israel have been told that the war on terror is really a war against radical Islam.
The Israeli ambassador to the United States says Muslim radicals were the enemy on Nine-Eleven and are the enemy today in Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran. Ambassador Daniel Ayalon said Iran "must be stopped and will be stopped" from building a nuclear weapon.
Senator Rick Santorum warned that Iran's leaders believe they must destroy Israel to bring about the return of Shia Islam's "hidden or 12th imam."
Rabbi Arnold Scheinberg told Christians United for Israel that their gathering shows Christians support and stand by Israel.
PAS slams Muslim world's 'deafening' silence
Jul 19, 06 2:17pm
PAS today slammed the Muslim world for its ‘deafening silence’ over Israel’s attack on Lebanon and its incursion into Gaza.
Israel ready to attack Iran
Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon has given the green light to Israeli army for a possible strike against Iran's nuclear installations in March, The Sunday Times reported on December 11.
The order went through the Israeli defense ministry to the chief of staff, according to the British daily.
It quoted sources inside special forces command as saying that "G" readiness — the highest stage — for an operation was announced last week. "Israel — and not only Israel — cannot accept a nuclear Iran," Sharon said recently. "We have the ability to deal with this and we’re making all the necessary preparations to be ready for such a situation."
The Times quoted Israeli military sources as saying if a military operation is approved, Israel will use air and ground forces against several nuclear targets in the hope of stalling Tehran’s nuclear program (pix)for years.
A "massive" Israeli intelligence operation has been underway since Iran was designated the "top priority for 2005", according to security sources.(al-jazeera)
Keadilan Condemns Israeli Military Intrusion Into Lebanon
Tuesday, 18 July 2006
KUALA LUMPUR, July 15 (Bernama) -- Parti Keadilan Rakyat (Keadilan) has condemned the intrusion of Israeli armed forces into Lebanon, branding the Zionist regime as unshamely arrogant, vicious and vindictive in launching the military attacks which left more than 60 people, mostly civilians, dead.
Urging the international community to react immediately to stop the conflict, it called on all countries to unreservedly denounce Tel Aviv's assault on innocent lives and civilian targets.
It also demanded swift action by the United Nations Security Council to end the hostility, calling on the United States to play a responsible and impartial role in the crisis by standing decisively with other peace-loving nations to request United Nations prompt intervention.
The party's information chief Tian Chua said the Israeli offensive was a clear violation of international law.
"The military operations by Israel have destabilised the region as well as the world. The regime's reckless and mindless provocation will for sure invite more brutal retaliation.
"The volatile situation puts the world in greater risk of violence. As such, Israel's state terrorism is a menace to global security," he said in a statement.
Tel Aviv, retaliating to Hizbollah guerrillas' capture of two Israeli soldiers and killing eight to trade for Lebanese prisoners held in Israel, has since last Wednesday imposed an air, sea and land blockade on Lebanon and launched air strikes on roads, bridges and airports that have killed a total of 66 people, almost all civilians.
Last edited by HangPC2; July 20th, 2006 at 03:42..
|July 20th, 2006||#38|
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Israel pounds 'Hezbollah' bunker as Lebanon PM pleads for help
BEIRUT (AFP) - Lebanon's prime minister made a desperate appeal for international help after the deadliest day of the Israeli bombardment as warplanes dropped over 20 tonnes of bombs on a bunker said to be used by Hezbollah leaders.
Thousands of terrified foreigners, mainly Westerners, were being evacuated by sea from Beirut to the neighbouring Mediterranean island of Cyprus, fleeing a bombardment that has now killed 327 and displaced half-a-million people.
Concerns mounted over the humanitarian situation, with the United Nations warning of an impending "catastrophe" as Israel's relentless campaign to defeat the Shiite Muslim militants of Hezbollah killed 72 people on its eighth day.
"The country has been torn to shreds. Can the international community stand by while such callous retribution by the state of Israel is inflicted on us?," a bitter and emotional Prime Minister Fuad Siniora told foreign ambassadors.
"You want to support the government of Lebanon? Let me tell you ... no government can survive on the ruins of a nation," he said. "I hope you will not let us down. We the Lebanese want life. We have chosen life. We refuse to die."
In the latest Hezbollah attack on the Jewish state, two Arab-Israeli children were killed and 37 people wounded when a Katyusha rocket fired from Lebanon exploded in the northern Israeli town of Nazareth.
Another two Israeli soldiers were killed and nine wounded in border clashes after ground troops went back into Lebanon to conduct "pinpoint" operations against Hezbollah. One Hezbollah militant was also killed in the shootout.
Israel, which has made no secret of its desire to "liquidate" Hezbollah's charismatic leader Hassan Nasrallah, would not disclose the targets of its late night raid on the bunker in south Beirut or the results of the strike.
With still no sign of a ceasefire in sight, a senior Israel official vowed after a security cabinet meeting its "intensive war" against Hezbollah would go on as long the Jewish state deemed necessary.
Diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed have yet to get off the ground, with Israel's chief ally the United States refusing to back calls for a ceasefire until Hezbollah halts its rocket attacks into northern Israel.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana were to meet in New York on Thursday with UN chief Kofi Annan, who has proposed the creation of an international force to restore calm in Lebanon.
Israel pressed on with a new wave of attacks from air and sea against southern and eastern Lebanon, killing at least 72 people, flattening houses, destroying roads and hitting trucks, police said.
Twenty-five people were killed and 26 wounded in a single village where residents said 10 houses were turned to rubble by shelling from Israeli gunboats and warplanes.
Eleven civilians were killed in an Israeli air strike on a four-storey building in the eastern Lebanese village of Nabi Sheet, near the ancient Roman city of Baalbek.
Israeli helicopters also fired rockets on a residential Christian district in Beirut, the first direct strikes in the centre of the capital, raising concerns about the evacuation operation underway at the nearby port.
Israel also continued its deadly offensive in the Gaza Strip, killing at least 10 people Wednesday, bringing to 96 the number of Palestinians dead since it launched an operation to retrieve a captive soldier and halt rocket attacks.
It also killed five others in a West Bank incursion into the city of Nablus.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, on his second visit to the region in days, called for an immediate solution to end the violence in both Gaza and Lebanon, saying "every day counts."
Over the past week 28 Israelis have been killed, including civilians caught in a barrage of rocket fire across the border and 12 soldiers.
Expressing alarm about the humanitarian situation in south Lebanon, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said perpetrators in the conflict could be held to account for war crimes.
"The scale of the killings in the region, and their predictability, could engage the personal criminal responsibility of those involved, particularly those in a position of command and control," she said.
In Beirut, hundreds of foreigners were waiting to be evacuated by sea while three ships arrived on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, which lies just 100 miles (160 kilometres) to the west and is being used as the evacuation hub.
More than 1,000 people, mostly Americans, arrived on Cyprus from Beirut on a chartered cruise liner, with US diplomats seeking to help some 6,000 nationals exit Lebanon by Friday.
Britain is also hoping to evacuate about 5,000 of its nationals by the end of the week. "It's hell on earth, it's escalating day by day," said Joe Noujeim from England as he arrived in Cyprus on a British destroyer, expressing relief at finally getting out with his wife and three young children.
For many ordinary Lebanese there is little chance of such a rescue and police said some 70 percent of the population of south Lebanon, which has borne the brunt of the Israeli operation, had fled their homes to find safer places.
The international airport has been knocked out, ports and roads bombed, bridges destroyed, power stations set ablaze and houses turned to rubble in scenes reminiscent of the country's devastating 1975-1990 civil war.
French President Jacques Chirac called for the creation of humanitarian corridors, while Israel's offensive drew stinging criticism from The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
"The high number of civilian casualties and the extent of damage to essential public infrastructure raise serious questions regarding respect for the principle of proportionality in the conduct of hostilities," ICRC director of operations Pierre Kraehenbuehl said.
Rice is expected to travel to the region although she has been unwilling to be drawn on a specific date, saying she would only come when it is "helpful".
Israel, which has sent ground troops back into Lebanon for the first time since it ended its occupation in May 2000, has been emboldened by strong public support at home and the lack of a ceasefire call from its ally Washington.
Amid fears the conflict in Lebanon and Gaza could spread across the region, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres said the Jewish state is not planning to attack Iran or Syria, noting that it already has its "hands full" with Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.
© AFP 2006
|July 20th, 2006||#39|
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Israeli Troops Push Into South Lebanon
Jul 19, 11:14 PM EDT
By LEE KEATH
Associated Press Writer
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) -- Israeli troops punched into south Lebanon on Wednesday as warplanes flattened houses and buildings including one thought to hold Hezbollah's top leaders, intensifying an offensive despite mounting international pressure and a Lebanese appeal to spare the country further death and devastation.
The attempt to wipe out the Hezbollah leadership was the most dramatic action on a day that saw Israelis clash with the guerrillas and the Lebanese prime minister say about 300 people in his country had died in the eight-day offensive.
Reports of the death toll in Wednesday's violence ranged as high at 70, which would make it the single deadliest day since the fighting began. Voice of Lebanon state radio reported 70 dead, while other Lebanese media gave figures ranging from 57 to 64. No further breakdowns were provided.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour criticized the growing death toll, saying the indiscriminate shelling of cities and of nearby military sites was invariably resulting in the deaths of innocent civilians.
"International law demands accountability," Arbour said in Geneva. "The scale of the killings in the region, and their predictability, could engage the personal criminal responsibility of those involved, particularly those in a position of command and control."
Israel broadcast warnings into south Lebanon telling civilians to leave the region, a possible prelude to a larger Israeli ground operation.
Hezbollah, undeterred, fired rockets into the Israeli Arab town of Nazareth, where Jesus is said to have spent his boyhood, killing two Arab brothers, ages 3 and 9, as they played outdoors.
Thousands of foreigners fled Lebanon in one of the largest evacuation operations since World War II, including 1,000 Americans who arrived in Cyprus early Thursday on a rented cruise ship.
"I'm so relieved, there are no words to explain. I'm very thankful," said Elizabeth Kassab, 45, nervously smoking a cigarette on the ship's deck. "But I'm still nervous and I won't relax until we get out of here."
The flight from the fighting came as international pressure mounted on Israel and its key supporter, the United States, to agree to a cease-fire. The rising death toll and scope of the destruction deepened a rift between the U.S. and Europe, and humanitarian agencies were sounding the alarm over a pending catastrophe with a half million people displaced in Lebanon.
Hezbollah denied that any of its "leaders or members" died in the strike in the Bourj al-Barajneh district of south Beirut. The explosives did not blast a leadership bunker, but a mosque under construction, the group said in a statement faxed to The Associated Press.
In a statement, the Israeli military spokesman's office said: "We attacked a bunker of Hezbollah leaders in the Bourj al-Barajneh neighborhood of Beirut." The military said the attack took place between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. and involved 23 tons of explosives.
Last Friday, Israel bombed leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah's headquarters but both he and his family survived.
Prime Minister Fuad Saniora, whose weak government has been unable to fulfill a U.N. directive to disarm Hezbollah and put its army along the border with Israel, issued an urgent appeal for a cease-fire. He said his country "has been torn to shreds," and pointedly criticized the U.S. position that Israel acts in self-defense.
"Is this what the international community calls self-defense?" a stern-looking Saniora asked a meeting of foreign diplomats including U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman. "Is this the price we pay for aspiring to build our democratic institutions?"
Israel vowed to press the offensive in Lebanon until it destroys the militant Shiite guerrillas' vast arsenal of missiles and drives Hezbollah fighters far from its northern border.
The Bush administration is giving Israel a tacit green light to take the time it needs to neutralize the Shiite militant group, but the Europeans fear mounting civilian casualties will play into the hands of militants and weaken Lebanon's democratically elected government.
President Bush has made the survival of the Saniora government a top priority, but the continuing Israeli operation threatened to return Lebanon to the political chaos and violence that ravaged the country during its long civil war.
Saniora pleaded for the foreign powers to back a cease-fire. "Lift the siege and quickly send humanitarian aid," he said, demanding compensation from Israel for "immeasurable loss" to infrastructure.
About 1,000 Americans fled the relentless air attacks, sailing to Cyprus on a chartered cruise liner. An estimated 200 others were flown to the Mediterranean island on giant Chinook transport helicopters.
In all, more than 10,000 people from at least 13 countries had been extracted from Lebanon by Wednesday night.
Israel refused to rule out a full-scale invasion.
"There is a possibility - all our options are open. At the moment, it's a very limited, specific incursion but all options remain open," Capt. Jacob Dallal, an Israeli army spokesman, told The Associated Press.
He said Israel had hit "1,000 targets in the last 8 days - 20 percent (of them were) missile launching sites, control and command centers, missiles and so forth."
Israel said its airstrikes had destroyed "about 50 percent" of Hezbollah's arsenal. "It will take us time to destroy what is left," Brig. Gen. Alon Friedman, a senior army commander, told Israeli Army Radio.
Israel used a radio station near the border to broadcast warnings into south Lebanon telling civilians to leave the region. The radio warnings also stressed that any pickup truck or truck traveling south of the Litani River would be suspected of transporting weapons and rockets and therefore be a potential target of attack.
At least two Israeli soldiers and one militant fighter died Wednesday in the fierce battles in southern Lebanon. Israeli authorities said 18 people were wounded in the Hezbollah rocket attack on Nazareth.
At the close of the eighth day of fighting, a total of 29 people had been reported killed on the Israeli side of the border, including 14 soldiers and 15 civilians.
Saniora said about 300 people had died in Lebanon, 1,000 wounded and half a million were displaced. But precise casualty figures were difficult to confirm.
The police control room announced a total death count in the late morning. As of midday Wednesday, police said 277 had died in Israeli air and missile strikes. The figure at noon Tuesday was 237, which would suggest 40 people had died in the 24 hours ending noon Wednesday.
It was not clear if Saniora had simply rounded the 277 figure up or if he knew of 23 additional deaths Wednesday afternoon.
But it was clear the fighting went on: Three large explosions rattled south Beirut shortly after sunset, a time when Israeli strikes have hit in past days.
The Israeli incursion into Lebanon came before dawn Wednesday, when troops clashed with guerrillas near the coastal border town of Naqoura. The troops later pulled back across the border, though witnesses reported two tanks remained about 500 yards inside Lebanon.
With Hezbollah still operating on the border despite a week's poundings, Israeli strikes were chasing rocket firers with a vengeance, but often hitting others. U.N. peacekeepers' main headquarters in the south was hit by an Israeli artillery shell after a rocket was fired from nearby. There were no casualties.
Israeli bombers, which had been focusing on Hezbollah strongholds in southern Beirut, also hit a Christian suburb on the eastern side of the capital for the first time. The target was a truck-mounted machine used to drill for water but could have been mistaken for a missile launcher. No one was hurt.
In the village of Srifa, near Tyre in southern Lebanon, airstrikes flattened 15 houses after rockets were fired from the area. The village's headman, Hussein Kamaledine, said 25 to 30 people lived in the houses, but it was not known if they were at home at the time. Many people have fled southern Lebanon.
"This is a real massacre," Kamaledine told Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV as fire engines extinguished the blaze and rescue workers searched for survivors.
High casualties also were feared in the nearby town of Salaa and the Hezbollah stronghold of Baalbek in eastern Lebanon, where more houses were devastated.
AP correspondents Sam F. Ghattas and Zeina Karam in Beirut, Lebanon, and Ravi Nessman in Jerusalem contributed to this report.
|July 21st, 2006||#40|
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Israeli helicopters collide
Friday 21 July 2006, 3:48 Makka Time, 0:48 GMT
Israel has neither confirmed nor denied the fatalities
Israelis against the war
Israel may send troops into Lebanon
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Two Israeli helicopters have collided near the Lebanese border, killing four.
Israeli army radio said the two US-built Apache helicopters crashed on Thursday night on a road near Ramat Naftali, 10km (six miles) from the border with Lebanon.
A witness described the casualties as being inside the wreckage.
Each of the helicopters carry a two-person crew.
Aljazeera television said that there were four deaths in the collision but this was neither confirmed nor denied by Israel.
Earlier on Thursday, Israel confirmed two of its soldiers had been killed in heavy fighting with Hezbollah fighters just inside the Lebanon border.
The Israeli army said the soldiers had been searching for Hezbollah bases and weapons.
Hezbollah said it lost two of its fighters in the clashes and that it killed four Israeli soldiers.
Israeli police said the number of Katyusha rockets fired by Hezbollah at northern Israel from Lebanon on Thursday was fewer than the daily average for the last eight days.
However, police urged the 1.2m Israelis living in the north of the country to remain vigilant and to stay in shelters.
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