Israel strikes Beirut suburb, tightens blockade

July 14th, 2006  

Topic: Israel strikes Beirut suburb, tightens blockade

Israel strikes Beirut suburb, tightens blockade

By Lin Noueihed

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Israeli jets struck Hizbollah's southern Beirut stronghold on Friday hours after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ordered a more intense retaliation against the Lebanese guerrilla group's capture of two Israeli soldiers.

Israel bombed bridges and roads in the Shi'ite Muslim suburb and a fuel storage facility at the Jiyyeh power plant outside the city, shortly after a series of Israeli raids forced the closure of a highway linking Beirut to Damascus.

srael's decision to ramp up the attacks came at a meeting of security chiefs after a day in which Israel blockaded Lebanese ports, struck Beirut airport and two military airbases, and attacked bridges and houses in the south as well as a bridge leading to the country's only international airport.

The attacks virtually isolated Lebanon by air, sea and land.

"The decision was made to intensify Israel's operations in Lebanon," Army Radio quoted political sources as saying.

Israeli air strikes and shelling have already killed at least 55 Lebanese civilians since the two soldiers were captured in a cross-border raid on Wednesday. It was not immediately clear if anyone was killed in the latest strikes, which shook Beirut residents from their beds, but television footage showed residents helping others wounded by debris. Fire fighters fought in vain to get a raging blaze at the Jiyyeh plant under control.

Barrages of Hizbollah rocket fire into northern Israel have killed two Israeli civilians and wounded 95.

Two of the missiles hit the port of Haifa on Thursday in an attack Israel blamed on Hizbollah and described as a "major escalation", since Haifa lies over 30 km (18 miles) from the Lebanese border. Hizbollah denied it fired on Haifa, Israel's third-largest city, and no one was injured in the attack.

In total, Israel said Hizbollah fired more than 120 rockets at towns and villages in the north on Thursday, causing panic.


Food and drink flew off shop shelves in Lebanon as families fearing tougher days ahead hoarded supplies. Beirut restaurants and shops remained mainly closed and tourists fled, while fears of an escalation shook Lebanese and Israeli financial markets.

Planes had dropped leaflets in Beirut suburbs and some southern cities urging residents to stay away from Hizbollah offices, witnesses said, a move that raised the possibility that Hizbollah's leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, could be targeted.

Flames and smoke could be seen rising from the southern suburb of Beirut, where Hizbollah is headquartered, but it did not appear that the group's major facilities were hit.

The military offensive coincided with a major Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip to retrieve another captured soldier and halt Palestinian rocket fire.

Israeli troops fired a tank shell at a vehicle in Gaza on Friday, killing a Palestinian, Palestinian medics said.

The threat of a similar Israeli ground offensive into Lebanon to prevent the rocket fire gained currency after the Haifa strikes, although the military remained tight-lipped.

The violence is the fiercest since 1996, when Israeli troops still occupied southern Lebanon, and fears are rising it could spread to Syria, which backs Hizbollah along with its ally Iran.

In Tehran, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned Israel not to attack Syria, saying such action would be considered an assault on the whole Islamic world that would bring a "fierce response", state television reported.


U.S. President George W. Bush, on a visit to Germany, voiced concern about the fate of Lebanon's anti-Syrian government, but offered no direct criticism of the punishment Israel meted out.

"Israel has the right to defend herself," he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, also speaking in Germany, urged Israel to exercise restraint but demanded that Syria put pressure on Hizbollah to stop the attacks on Israel.

Syria's ambassador to the United States urged Washington to restrain its ally Israel and push for the resumption of peace talks amid escalating Middle East violence.

The European Union and Russia criticised Israel's strikes in Lebanon as a dangerous escalation of the Middle East conflict.

Lebanon urged the U.N. Security Council on Thursday to adopt a resolution demanding a cease-fire and end to Israeli attacks, rejecting Israel's insistence it was acting in self defense.

The Security Council was to meet later on Friday but the United States has already vetoed a council resolution put forward by Qatar on behalf of Arab states that called on Israel to immediately end its military incursion in Gaza.

With stocks down, currency pressure up and trade and tourism virtually still, ratings agency Standard & Poor's warned that it might downgrade Lebanon's debt ratings amid escalating violence.

Israel has rejected Hizbollah demands that it release Arab prisoners in exchange for the captive soldiers but says it fears they could be spirited to Iran. Iran dismissed such fears.

(Additional reporting by Nadim Ladki, Alaa Shahine and Laila Bassam, and
Jerusalem bureau)

Fire rises from fuel tanks at Beirut international airport after being attacked by Israeli aircrafts July 13, 2006. Israeli jets struck Hizbollah's southern Beirut stronghold on Friday hours after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ordered a more intense retaliation against the Lebanese guerrilla group's capture of two Israeli soldiers. (REUTERS/Adnan Hajj)

Copyright 2005 Reuters
July 14th, 2006  
Why has israel lost its mind in the last few days? Most nations are saying israel is using too much force except the USA which assumes israel is defending itself. It's true, all the other countries think israel is agitated these things way out of proportion.
July 14th, 2006  
I must admit whenever I hear this kind of news, I always ask "Sir, does this mean AnnMargaret isn't coming?"
July 14th, 2006  
Why has israel lost its mind in the last few days? Most nations are saying israel is using too much force except the USA which assumes israel is defending itself. It's true, all the other countries think israel is agitated these things way out of proportion.
You fool!, If people on the mexican border started lobbing rockets at Houston, and the Mexican government stood by and did nothing. We would be out of our minds to not defend ourselves. Then after hiting the areas were the missiles were comeing from and our soldiers taken to be told that we were over reacting!
July 15th, 2006  
I see Hezbolla hit an Israeli warship with an unmanned drone. Other reports indicate the ship struck was one of Israel's missile ships [1,2] (which at 450-500t displacement are some of the biggest ships in Israel's navy).

Pretty surprising: the ships do have AA but I guess must not have been expecting attack.
July 15th, 2006  
The Israeli government was problably waiting for an excuse to ´pacify´Gaza, the terrorists are simply playing into Israels hands by agitating them at the current time.

I gaurantee you all, Israel did not withdraw from Gaza to let the Palestinians (if such a group exists) have their own seperate state: As things are, Israel can now attack Gaza as a seperate nation. As things were just a few years ago, If Israel had done this back then it would appear as a bloody suppression (think Chechnya).
July 15th, 2006  
Israelis Missing After Naval Raid

Israel's military says four servicemen are missing after one of its vessels off the Lebanese coast was struck by a missile fired by Hezbollah militants.

The ship caught fire after it was hit by either a rocket or explosives-laden drone, the military said.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah had earlier promised "open war" on Israel in an address broadcast after his Beirut offices were bombed.

Israel has struck inside Lebanon after Hezbollah captured two Israeli troops.

More than 60 Lebanese have been killed in the offensive.

Hezbollah has not yet confirmed it attacked the warship but in his address Sheikh Nasrallah said: "Look at the warship that has attacked Beirut, while it burns and sinks before your very eyes."

The Israeli military said a civilian vessel was also hit by rockets during the attack but could not confirm its nationality or if there were casualties.

The Israeli vessel has been towed back to the port of Haifa.

An Israeli spokeswoman said: "During a navy operation off the Lebanese coast a missile ship was hit and we have four crew members missing.

"At the moment there are all kinds of operations under way to find them."

The naval incident took place after Israel had launched a number of attacks on Beirut and on Lebanese infrastructure in and outside the capital.

The road to Damascus was hit and Beirut's airport was again targeted on Friday.

Targets in southern Beirut around Hezbollah's headquarters were bombed.

Sheikh Nasrallah was not hurt in the attacks and later said in his broadcast: "You wanted an open war and we are ready for an open war."

He said Haifa would come under attack, "and believe me, even beyond Haifa".

"Our homes will not be the only ones to be destroyed, our children will not be the only ones to die," he said.

The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on Friday and called for an end to the Israeli operation, saying it was causing the death of innocent civilians.

A three-man UN crisis team has arrived in Cairo and will hold talks with the Arab League on Saturday. The situation is also sure to be discussed at the G8 forum in St Petersburg, Russia.

Syria said it would support Hezbollah and Lebanon against Israel's attacks.

A ruling Baath Party statement accused Israel and the US of "trying to wipe out Arab resistance in every land under occupation".

Israel says the campaign will be "long and continuous". Israeli Brig Gen Ido Nehushtan said: "We need to put Hezbollah out of business."

The crisis began when Hezbollah guerrillas seized the two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid from Lebanon on Wednesday. Eight Israeli troops were killed in the raid.

Israel is demanding Hezbollah free the soldiers. Hezbollah says they will not be returned without a release deal for Palestinian, Lebanese and other Arab prisoners held in Israeli jails.

A third soldier has been captured by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip and Israel is conducting a separate operation there.


March 1978: Israel invades to stop Palestinian attacks
1982: Full-scale invasion; Israel occupies Beirut; pro-Israel militias massacre Palestinian refugees
May 1983: Israel pulls back, but keeps "security zone"
February 1992: Israeli air strike kills Hezbollah leader
1996: Israel launches "Grapes of Wrath" raids on Hezbollah; 100 civilians die under Israeli shelling of UN base at Qana
May 2000: Israel withdraws troops from Lebanon
January 2004: Prisoners-bodies swap agreed between Hezbollah and Israel
July 15th, 2006  
I can see both side argument on this, Israel wants security and the the promise to the end of rocket attacks and suicide bombers. The Palestine people want much of the country back which Israel has on encroachment on since the last agreement in 1967 let alone the 1947 agreement. They have been forcefully pushing the Palestinian of their land in the security, if they object or resisted then they are classed as terrorist and dealt with.
the Israeli Army will come along and bulldoze there property flat and if they fight then they are terrorist and are dealt with accordingly, just look at the the Israeli security wall that has gone up and all built inside Palestine. When the Palestine people have tried to help them selfs the Israelis come along and smash it up. They built a small port to cut out the duty they have to pay the Israelis for importing goods through their country, this was destroyed just after it was finished, they built an international Airport and this again was destroyed. The Israelis have also destroyed dams on the upper Jordan River used by the countries there for irrigation as they think that this would reduce the water for them. Take all hope away from a people and what have they left.
July 15th, 2006  
They have been forcefully pushing the Palestinian of their land in the security, if they object or resisted then they are classed as terrorist and dealt with.
Obviously they shouldnt pull back, when they did the Palestinians simply moved their rocket launchers up.
July 15th, 2006  
Because palestine has been so messed up over the years the militant organizations are rogues, you think hamas controls everything with an iron fist? If that were the case the soldier wouldn't even be kidnapped and the rockets would never be fired. Israel has done a fine job however in losing more soldiers than it hoped to gain back in its recent operations.

Sometime israel needs to fight back, but by destroying the infrastructure of gaza and southern lebanon, they're gaining very little sympathy from the international community. That's what happens when you have an untested PM at the helm, shame it had to be in this situation Olmert had to make decisions, he seems to be a level headed guy usually.

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