Friday, July 14, 2006
The fighting continues as Israel launches a fresh wave of attacks on Lebanese targets Friday, striking Beirut’s International airport, the road from Lebanon to Damascus and a power plant. Since Wednesday, Hezbollah have fired over 300 rockets into towns in northern Israel, killing four civilians and wounding dozens. Hezbollah rockets reached as far south as the port city of Haifa.
Lebanon said on Friday that Israel had launched “a widespread barbaric aggression” with the intention of hurting Lebanon. The country urged the United Nations community to stop the military offensive. “The targets chosen are connected either directly or indirectly with terrorism,” Israeli Air Force General Ido Nehushtan, said.
The Israeli attacks included the southern suburb of Beirut where Israel says Hezbollah has a stronghold. Most roads and bridges leading to the southern suburb of Beirut have been shelled, isolating the suburb from the rest of the country. The attacks came after Israeli planes dropped leaflets on the evening of July 13, warning residents in the mainly Shiite south suburb of impending attacks to Hezbollah property.
Israel says Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, is also a target. “Nasrallah has issued his own sentence.” said Ronnie Bar-On, the Israeli interior minister. The home and headquarters of Hezbollah’s spiritual leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah was hit by Israeli missiles, but Nasrallah and his nearest were unhurt in the attack. Nasrallah said in a televised address after the attack that Hezbollah is ready for an “open war” with Israel.
This comes after Ehud Olmert said Lebanon had committed an “act of war” when Hezbollah attacked Israel.
“You wanted an open war and we are ready for an open war”, Nasrallah said in the broadcast. “You have chosen an all-out war with a nation which … has the capability, the experience and the courage.” He continued saying that Lebanon would either surrender or “have faith in Allah and victory”.
The Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora described the conflict as a “controlled war” and called it an opportunity to address the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Five civilians were killed and at least 50 have been wounded in Lebanon on Friday after Israeli attacks. According to Lebanon, 63 people have been killed and 167 wounded in the country since the raids commenced on Wednesday.
The Israeli military and Israel’s ambassador to the UN said that the rockets fired into Haifa on Thursday by Hezbollah were manufactured in Iran. Lebanese PM Siniora said that it was puzzling for Hezbollah to perform the attacks unsupported.
States worldwide have called for the release of the prisoners and for Israel to exercise restraint, while Lebanon has urged the UN Security Council, which held an emergency meeting on Friday, to pass a ceasefire resolution.
Lebanon’s UN envoy, Nouhad Mahmoud, claimed that Israel’s attacks on Lebanon “will not resolve the problem, but will further complicate it. The Security Council meets today in the shadow of a widespread barbaric aggression waged by Israel to this very moment against my nation,” he said. “What Israel is undertaking is an act of aggression and devastation aimed at bringing Lebanon to its knees and subverting it by any means.”
Israel’s chief of staff, Dan Halutz, said Friday that all three soldiers were alive and in a “reasonable” state of health.