Correction to This Article
A map with an Aug. 4 article on fighting between Israel and Hezbollah showed an incorrect location for the Israeli town of Acre. It is on the coast, north of Haifa.

Israel Suffers Highest Toll Yet

By Jonathan Finer and Molly Moore
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, August 4, 2006

AVIVIM, Israel, Aug. 3 -- A new wave of Hezbollah rockets killed eight Israeli civilians Thursday, and four soldiers died in ground combat in southern Lebanon, Israel's highest daily death toll in the three-week-old war. Israeli jets blasted targets in Beirut for the first time in almost a week.

Israeli forces appeared to be struggling in efforts to control villages and towns across the Lebanese border and push deeper into the country, according to U.N. observers in Lebanon. Most of the day's fighting took place within two miles of the frontier and sometimes only a few hundred yards from it.

Hezbollah said its guerrillas destroyed four armored vehicles with antitank missiles during combat in the Aita al-Shaab region, about 15 miles from the Mediterranean, and in the hills around Taibe, about 20 miles to the northeast. In that town, a missile slammed into a house, killing a married couple and their daughter, Lebanese officials said.

In a televised statement Thursday night, the Shiite Muslim militia's leader, Hasan Nasrallah, threatened to fire rockets at Tel Aviv, Israel's most populous city, if Israeli forces expand their attacks on Beirut. Nasrallah, speaking from an unknown location, also offered to halt strikes on Israel if the Jewish state ceases its attacks on Lebanese "cities, villages, civilians and infrastructure."

[Early Friday, Israeli warplanes pursued their bombing of southern Beirut, however, hitting what Israeli military spokesmen described as Hezbollah facilities. Blasts shook the city, setting off car alarms, and a column of smoke rose over the southern suburbs. Israeli planes dropped leaflets on the already badly damaged residential quarters, warning people to leave because the bombing would intensify in the days ahead.

Other Israeli warplanes hit targets north of the Lebanese capital, damaging bridges and roads in what Israeli officials have described as a campaign to prevent movement of Hezbollah munitions and supplies.]

On Thursday, Hezbollah sent 180 rockets crashing into Israel. All eight civilian deaths occurred during an intense one-hour barrage of 40 rockets between 4 and 6 p.m., according to the Israeli national police.

Five Israelis were killed in the coastal town of Acre when a rocket landed near an automobile. A father and his 15-year-old daughter were among the fatalities.

Three Israeli Arab friends died when a rocket crashed down on a dirt road bordered by olive trees in the Bedouin town of Tarshiha, east of Maalot, police officials and witnesses said. Shenati Shenati, 20, Muhammad Faul, 17, and Amir Naim, 19, all Muslims, died instantly, their bodies "severely hit by shrapnel," according to Naim Naim, who ran from his nearby home and saw his cousin Amir and the other men lying on the ground.

"Everybody knew them around here, the three of them were always together," said Adnan Naim, another cousin of Amir's. "This is fate. What are the odds of them walking on this huge hillside and getting hit?"

More than 30 rockets landed in and around the town of Kiryat Shemona in northeastern Israel, 10 of them striking developed areas, local emergency officials said. One of them plowed into the pavement of Eilat Street, a hillside immigrant district, sending residents running for a bomb shelter and spraying shrapnel into apartment buildings.

U.N. officials on the border said they believed that despite intense Israeli attacks, Hezbollah's forces remained able to synchronize operations, particularly the firing of rockets across the border. They estimated that Hezbollah had 16,000 of the weapons before the war started and that its stockpiles could last two more weeks, perhaps longer.


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