Da The Daily Star del 18/07/2006
Originale su http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&am...

Olmert vows to continue assault as Lebanese death toll passes 200

Israel continued its bombardment of Lebanon Monday, targeting the South, the Bekaa Valley and Beirut's southern suburbs, leading to the death of at least 46 Lebanese and pushing the overall death toll to over 200 since Wednesday. The latest strikes came as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the fighting in Lebanon would end when the two soldiers captured by Hizbullah on Wednesday were freed, rocket attacks on Israel stopped and the Lebanese Army deployed along the border.

Delivering a speech to Israel's Parliament, Olmert said Israel would have no mercy on militants who attack its cities with rockets.

"We shall seek out every installation, hit every terrorist helping to attack Israeli citizens, destroy the entire terrorist infrastructure, in every place. We shall continue this until Hizbullah does the basic and fair things required of it by every civilized person," he said.

Israeli officials have said publicly that Israel would not stop fighting until Hizbullah is dismantled. But Olmert's comments Monday seemed to be a softening of that position.

Israel's deputy armed forces chief of staff, Major Moshe Kaplinsky, said Monday that his country's armed offensive in Lebanon would last "at least another week."

The Lebanese resistance group has so far rejected the Israeli conditions. A senior member of Hamas rejected a cease-fire on terms dictated by Israel.

"We accept no conditions for a cease-fire, whatever the pressure," Abdullah Kasir, a member of Hizbullah's central committee, told AFP.

The commander in chief of Iran's Revolutionary Guards said Israel could end the conflict with Lebanon by agree-ing to a prisoner swap proposed by Hizbullah.

Beginning in the early hours of Monday morning, Israeli warplanes hit coastal targets in Beirut, the North and the South.

Homes in Baalbek belonging to Hizbullah members were damaged by over 60 strikes, killing 11 people.

Hizbullah announced that one of its fighters was killed Monday, raising the total of resistance fighters killed in the ongoing crisis to three.

In Beirut, several thunderous blasts echoed over the capital and black smoke rose from a blazing fuel-storage depot. Civilian installations, gas stations and factories throughout the country, mainly in the South, were also hit.

The bodies of nine civilians, including six children, were pulled Monday from the rubble of a building hit in Israeli air strikes on the southern port city of Tyre the previous day.

In the deadliest strike Monday, an Israeli missile fired at a mini-bus, killing 12 civilians as they were driving through the seaside town of Rmeileh, south of Beirut.

Meanwhile, an unidentified object fell to the ground in Kfarshima, near Beirut, causing six casualties. Lebanese TV stations broadcast video images of burning debris falling over Beirut and claimed an Israeli aircraft had been downed. However, the Lebanese Army ruled out the object was an Israeli airplane.

Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz said no jet or helicopter had been lost but an unmanned drone may have been downed.

According to the Israeli military, an air strike hit a Hizbullah launcher on Monday as the guerrilla group was preparing to fire a long-range, Iranian-made rocket into Israel.

The strike caused the launcher to malfunction, and attempts to dispatch the missile, thought to have a range of up to 160 kilometers, failed and the missile fell to earth, General Ran Shmueli told reporters.

He said the failed launch was likely the source of reports in Lebanon that an Israeli aircraft had been hit over Beirut and brought down.

Shmueli described the rocket as a Zelzal, an Iranian-made missile thought to have a range of between 120 and 160 kilometers.

Earlier Monday, Israeli raids destroyed two army posts on the northern Lebanese coast, killing at least six Lebanese soldiers.

Two civilians were also killed when Israel bombed Beirut Port.

Israeli also targeted the Chouf area, where a power station was hit near a factory in Sibleen.

Israel's assaults have led to the displacement of at least 58,000 people, with over 14,000 heading to Beirut and the remainder to mountain areas inland, according to official figures.

More than 5,000 families sought refuge in Sidon, according to the city's Mayor Abdel-Rahman al-Bizri, while over 1,000 families were sheltered in schools across the North.

Tens of thousands are stranded in the South, trying to leave following Israeli warnings to evacuate but fearing the roads are too dangerous.

It took UN peacekeepers in Southern Lebanon all day Sunday to evacuate 283 remaining villagers in the Marwaheen area because of intense fighting, a UNIFIL spokesman said.

Meanwhile, Hizbullah fired dozens of rockets at Haifa Monday. A three-story building in the city partially collapsed, wounding two people.

Israel decided to close the port in Haifa after the attacks, the Transport Ministry said.

Hizbullah's rockets also struck northern Israeli towns beyond Haifa.

Some 50 rockets fell across the region, hitting Naharia, Akka and Safad, causing only light casualties. The projectiles reached as far south as the Arab towns of Afula and Nazareth for the first time.

Since the start of the conflict, a total of 24 Israelis have been killed, including 12 civilians.

Hizbullah also said it had repelled Israeli commandos from entering the country at several points.

The Israeli Army said it had no ground forces in Southern Lebanon, although an army spokesman said some soldiers had crossed the border overnight to destroy Hizbullah positions and then returned to Israel.

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