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Israel, Hezbollah Vow Wider War
In the morning, Israeli jets struck bridges and roads in the southern suburbs of Beirut that serve as Hezbollah's stronghold. In a marked escalation, attacks there at night targeted Nasrallah's home and the party's headquarters. Al-Manar said Nasrallah, his family and aides escaped unharmed but that three others were killed.
In the south, police said Israeli attacks killed five others, bringing the toll in Lebanon to at least 66 dead, nearly all of them civilians.
"They don't want to strike civilians? Then why are they doing it?" asked Mohammed Fathi, a 37-year-old resident of south Beirut. He stood outside Harkous Chicken, the restaurant where he works as a chef. The smell of peppers mixed with the reek of cordite, and workers swept shattered glass off the street near a bridge destroyed in a pre-dawn airstrike. The facades of nearby buildings were sheared off, and cars with broken windows sat parked along a street strewn with debris.
"We are paying a high price, but we're ready to pay it," Fathi said. "Let them strike once, twice or more. We don't care. Each time they strike, we're going to build again. If one of us dies, we're ready to give 10 more."
In the northern Israeli town of Meron, a woman and her 5-year-old grandson were killed Friday when a Katyusha rocket fired by Hezbollah militiamen from southern Lebanon landed on their house, Israeli military officials said. The attack, which wounded 10 others, brought the civilian death toll in Israel to four, with more than 100 injured.
Israeli officials said dozens of Katyusha rockets struck northern border towns from Nahariya to Kiryat Shmona over the course of the day, injuring more than 50 civilians. Most of those treated in local hospitals were suffering from the effects of anxiety, but others were treated for moderate and light injuries as a result of shrapnel.
Israel's security cabinet met in Nahariya with mayors and community council members as several rockets struck nearby. In a decision later in the day, the cabinet decided to extend military operations in Lebanon to deal with the rocket strikes.
Isaac Herzog, a member of the security cabinet, said in a telephone interview after the meeting that Hezbollah's attacks represented "a flagrant increase in attacks on Israeli civilians in the north."
"They are intolerable and we will take forceful measures to stop them," Herzog said. "I think Nasrallah will see that Israel has a strong backbone."
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan by telephone that Israel would not end its military operation in Lebanon until the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559, which calls for the disarming of Hezbollah and the deployment of the Lebanese army in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah has adamantly rejected such a development, although some Lebanese politicians have begun trying to lay the groundwork for a deal that might extend the army's control.
Israel is effectively fighting a low-grade battle on two fronts, one in Lebanon and the other in the Gaza Strip. Early Saturday, an Israeli missile struck the offices of the Palestinian Economy Ministry in the al-Nasir neighborhood, north of Gaza City, Palestinian security officials said. They said there were no injuries. In the past two weeks, Israel has also targeted the Gaza offices of the Palestinian prime minister, foreign minister and interior minister in a campaign aimed at destabilizing the Hamas-led government and freeing another captured Israeli soldier.
Earlier, an Israeli tank in Gaza fired on a truck that was approaching its position but refused orders to stop, an Israeli military spokeswoman said. One man was killed and another was injured, Palestinian security forces reported.