Lebanon-Israel Developments

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
Monday, July 17, 2006; 1:15 PM

-- Developments in the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah.

_ Israeli fighter bombers pummeled Lebanese infrastructure, setting Beirut's port ablaze and hitting a Hezbollah stronghold in deadly attacks. Also hit: a gas storage tank in the northern Beirut neighborhood of Dawra, a fuel storage tank at Beirut airport and, according to Israel, at least one long-range Iranian missile capable of hitting Tel Aviv. Israeli ground troops entered southern Lebanon to attack Hezbollah bases on the border but quickly returned to Israel after the operation, Israeli military officials said.

_ Hezbollah fired rockets that flew farther into Israel than ever before _ landing in the town of Atlit, about 35 miles south of the border and five miles south of Haifa. Three rounds of rockets struck Haifa, with one destroying a three-story building, Israel said.

_ A commercial ship escorted by a U.S. destroyer will start evacuating some Americans from Lebanon on Tuesday and more military helicopters will be used to fly others direct to Cyprus, a U.S. official said. Israel appeared to be allowing evacuation ships through its blockade of the country as France and Italy moved out hundreds of nationals and other Europeans. Other governments were organizing pullouts by land to Syria.

_ Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the fighting in Lebanon would end when two soldiers captured by Hezbollah guerrillas are freed, rocket attacks on Israel have stopped, and the Lebanese army is deployed along the border. This appeared to be a concession by Israel, which had previously demanded the full dismantling of Hezbollah as a condition for ending hostilities

_ Iran's foreign minister, visiting Syria, said a cease-fire and a prisoner swap would be "acceptable and fair."

_ President Bush expressed his disgust with Hezbollah and its backers in Syria as he talked to British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the G-8 summit. "See the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this s--- and it's over," Bush said while a making private remark that was picked up by an open microphone.

_ Blair and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for the deployment of international forces to stop Hezbollah from bombing Israel, a proposal that Israel quickly rejected. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow would consider contributing troops to an international peacekeeping force in the Middle East if the United Nations approves its deployment.

© 2006 The Associated Press