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Lebanese Daily Star: Israel's campaign continues
by Daily Star (reposted)
Friday Jul 14th, 2006 7:50 AM
Israel battered roads, mobile phone antennas and fuel tanks in Lebanon on Friday, further devastating its neighbor's economy after Hizbullah guerrillas captured two Israeli soldiers.
Israeli warplanes blasted the main Beirut-Damascus highway overnight, tightening an air, sea and land blockade of Lebanon, and bombed targets in a majority Shiite Muslim Beirut suburb, killing four people and wounding 40, security sources said.

The latest air strike brought the death toll to 55, almost all civilians, killed in Lebanon since Israel's campaign began.

Before the air strike, Israeli warplanes dropped leaflets in Beirut suburbs and some southern cities warning residents to stay away from Hizbullah offices, witnesses said, fuelling speculation that the group's charismatic leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, could be targeted.

"Nasrallah, I think, has pronounced sentence on himself but we will settle the account with him fully somewhere, sometime," Israeli Interior Minister Ronnie Bar-On told Israel Radio.

The Israeli military claimed Hizbullah has fired more than 130 missiles into Israel over the last 48 hours, killing two civilians and wounding over 100. It said Hizbullah's main security compound in southern Beirut had been among targets hit on Friday. Reuters reporters said they could see no sign of damage at the site.

Israeli warplanes also attacked the Jiyyeh power plant, south of Beirut and fuel tanks at the capital's international airport, Air raids struck several mobile telephone relay stations in eastern Lebanon.

BEIRUT: Israel carried out its most extensive attacks on Lebanon in at least a decade on Thursday, clamping a tight air and sea blockade and carrying out devastating air strikes in different parts of the country that killed at least 50 civilians a day after Hizbullah captured two Israeli soldiers. The Lebanese resistance group fired at least 80 rockets at around 20 northern Israeli towns, killing two and sending at least 43 people to hospital, many for "shock."

Israeli officials said Hizbullah also launched rockets at Haifa, Israel's third-largest city, which was considered as a "major, major escalation" by Israel's ambassador to the US.

Hizbullah denied having fired rockets at the Israeli seaport, but had earlier threatened to strike Haifa if Beirut or its southern suburbs were hit.

Israel intends to "break" Hizbullah, Defense Minister Amir Peretz announced late Thursday after at least one rocket landed in Haifa.

As The Daily Star went to press, Israel had begun attacks on Hizbullah's stronghold in Beirut's southern suburbs. An AFP correspondent said at least four loud explosions had been heard in the area.

Israel, which has not ruled out ground operations in Lebanon, had warned its northern neighbor to evacuate all residents from the southern suburb area where Hizbullah's leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is believed to live.

Earlier in the day, Israel's justice minister suggested that Nasrallah was a target for assassination and said Hizbullah would be struck "wherever its members gather."

Late Thursday, Israeli warplanes dropped leaflets across Lebanon warning residents to stay away from any areas where Hizbullah is active.

by ArabNews (reposted)
Friday Jul 14th, 2006 7:58 AM
Despite growing international calls for restraint from the Europeans and the Russians, Israeli military aggression was last night threatening to unleash more chaos and bloodshed and ratchet up tension in the region to a dangerous degree. In scenes harrowingly reminiscent of the build-up to1982 , when it invaded Lebanon for a second time, Israel has been bombing and shelling Lebanese sovereign territory, has smashed the runways of Beirut airport and by blasting away road bridges, has effectively cut off the south of the country. The stage could be set for yet another ground invasion, with all the misery and death that this will bring.

Everything about this Israeli response first in Gaza and now in the Lebanon is utterly disproportionate. Two weeks ago an Israeli soldier was seized by Hamas who demanded the release of Palestinian women and children held in Israeli jails in return for the soldiers freedom. Instead of talking, as has suited them in the past, the Israelis prepared themselves for two days and then launched massive punitive raids into Gaza, none of which brought them an inch closer to finding the captured soldier.

Then Hezbollah seized two more Israeli soldiers and made a similar demand for Lebanese prisoners held in Israeli prisons. Almost immediately the government of Ehud Olmert unleashed a string of clearly long-planned assaults on Lebanese territory but if this was also part of an attempt to save the lives of its two soldiers, it was a misjudged maneuver, since in the course of these actions, eight Israeli soldiers were killed.

The truth is that it suits Israel to once more destabilize its neighbors. After false starts, Lebanon had finally achieved a reasonable level of both economic and political stability. The process of recovery after the long years of civil war and occupation was well under way. A newly confident and determinedly independent Lebanon is not something Israel wants. So when they got an excuse, the Israeli military pushed the button on a well-oiled scheme to try and pitch the country back into chaos.

With the Palestinians, as their ruthless economic and political blockade demonstrates, the task of repression is a lot easier. The speed with which Israel stormed back into Gaza proves that the withdrawal never took place at all. It was just window dressing.

The only response from Washington to the Israeli military rampages has been to urge restraint on its allies. Without serious protests from the United States, the Olmert government knows that it can behave pretty well as it likes. By characterizing any action against itself or its soldiers as terrorism while insisting that its own murderous terror tactics are legitimate self-defense, it has Washington firmly on side.

After all hasn’t the war on terror been the defining issue of the two-term Bush presidency? A president as short-sighted and ill-informed as this one is not about to learn from his grievous errors, partly no doubt because the greatest human price is being paid in Arab blood and tears.§ion=0&article=85293&d=14&m=7&y=2006