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Beirut Burning: Israel Vows to Return Lebanon "20 Years" PDF Print E-mail
Peace News
Friday, 14 July 2006 09:36
Beirut Burning: Israel Vows to Return Lebanon "20 Years"

CBC News - Lebanon has condemned the [missile] raids and had pressed for a resolution against Israel at an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council on Friday morning. The meeting ended without a resolution, but members did issue a statement asking various countries in the Middle East to co-operate with UN officials expected to tour the region.

www.cbc.ca

Hezbollah leader vows 'open war' on Israel

CBC News
Last Updated Fri, 14 Jul 2006


The leader of Hezbollah vowed "open war" Friday as Israel tightened its grip on Lebanon, destroying Hezbollah's headquarters in Beirut and smashing roads and runways around the city.

 Fuel storage tanks burn at Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut following a raid by Israeli helicopter gunships. (Hussein Malla/Associated Press) Shortly after the headquarters was bombed, the organization's official television station, Hezbollah TV, played a recorded audio address from Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the group's secretary general. It's not clear when the recording was made, but Nasrallah did not mention the missile strike.

"You want an open war, we will go to the open war," he said, according to reports. "We are ready for it. War, war on every level."

Less than an hour before the audiotape aired, witnesses in Beirut reported at least four loud booms in the city's southern Haret Hreik neighbourhood, the site of Hezbollah's headquarters. It was not clear whether the missiles came from Israeli planes or warships.

The attack on the headquarters came amid reports an Israeli woman and a four-year-old girl were killed by a Hezbollah rocket in the northern Israeli town of Meron.

Four Israeli civilians have been killed since the Hezbollah rocket attacks started on Wednesday.

Also Friday, Israeli military officials said an Israeli naval ship in Lebanese waters had been hit by an unmanned Hezbollah aircraft rigged with explosives, but that the damage was minimal and there were no injuries. Hezbollah has sent unmanned spy drone aircraft over Israel in the past two years.

However, Arab television network Al-Jazeera is reporting four Israeli soldiers are missing following the attack. Other Arab television networks showed video of what they said was the Israeli naval ship on fire.

Highway, airport bombed

Earlier in the day, Israeli planes blasted Beirut's international airport and Hezbollah strongholds in southern Lebanon.

The main highway between Beirut and Damascus, Syria, was also bombed. Three people were killed and 55 wounded in the air strikes, police said Friday.

Beirut airport officials said one of three runways was hit by an Israeli missile at mid-morning Friday.

For its part, Hezbollah continued to fire rockets into northern Israel.

More than 55 people were killed on Thursday in the first wave of Israeli strikes against the airport and two Lebanese military bases. Israel's navy is enforcing a blockade of Lebanese ports.

Israel's military campaign was launched in retaliation for an attack by Hezbollah forces on Wednesday in which two Israeli soldiers were captured and taken into Lebanese territory.

Eight other Israeli soldiers were killed in skirmishes along the border.

Israel has said it holds Lebanon responsible for the capture of its two soldiers and will continue to intensify military pressure until they are released.

This is the most intense Israeli military action against Lebanon since Israel invaded and occupied Beirut 24 years ago. Israel withdrew the last of its forces from southern Lebanon in 2000, easing tensions between the two countries.

Israel must defend itself: UN ambassador

Lebanon has condemned the raids and had pressed for a resolution against Israel at an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council on Friday morning.

The meeting ended without a resolution, but members did issue a statement asking various countries in the Middle East to co-operate with UN officials expected to tour the region.

 (CBC) Speaking after the meeting, Israel's ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman, said Israel had no choice but to attack.

"Israel's actions were in direct response to an act of war by Lebanon," Gillerman said. "We are doing the only thing a democracy can do ? defend itself."

Gillerman accused Hezbollah of "holding the whole country hostage," including forcing Lebanese families to co-operate with them.

He said the long-range missiles fired at Israel were Iranian missiles "housed in Lebanese homes, with special rooms designed as launch pads."

"That's the reality we're facing," Gillerman said. "Although Israel holds the government of Lebanon responsible, it is concentrating its response carefully, mainly in Hezbollah strongholds, positions and infrastructure."

Second front

The air strikes opened a second front in Israel's conflicts with its neighbours over the capture of its troops. It has been hammering Gaza for weeks in a campaign to force the release of Gilad Shalit, a 19-year-old corporal seized by Palestinian militants on June 25.

International concern is mounting that the violence could spread. The European Union has criticized Israel for a "disproportionate response."

The Israeli military said the airport strike and the blockade are intended to cut off supplies to Hezbollah, and that the Lebanese government must move to clamp down on the Beirut-based militants.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called the Hezbollah raid an "act of war," and said military action against Lebanon and Hezbollah would intensify until the soldiers are released.

Last Updated on Friday, 14 July 2006 09:36
 

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