Israel, Hezbollah Fighting in Southern Lebanon - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/19/06-TYRE, Lebanon

Israel, Hezbollah Fighting in Southern Lebanon

srael says it is prepared to fight Hezbollah guerrillas for several more weeks as hundreds of Americans and Europeans continue to flee Lebanon. srael says it is prepared to fight Hezbollah guerrillas for several more weeks as hundreds of Americans and Europeans continue to flee Lebanon.
An Israeli soldier covers his ears as an artillery piece fires Wednesday at targets in southern Lebanon. An Israeli soldier covers his ears as an artillery piece fires Wednesday at targets in southern Lebanon.
Hadath, Lebanon: A man runs Wednesday near the scene of a convoy destroyed in an Israeli strike. Hadath, Lebanon: A man runs Wednesday near the scene of a convoy destroyed in an Israeli strike.

Clashes were reported Wednesday as Israel launched what it was calling a limited cross-border operation into southern Lebanon to attack Hezbollah targets.

Israeli soldiers were engaged in a firefight with Hezbollah militants near Avivim, an Israeli village on the border, Israeli military sources said.

An Israel Defense Forces spokesman said troops crossed into Lebanon on a mission to destroy specific outposts for Hezbollah, a Islamic militant group with a stronghold in southern Lebanon.

The spokesman declined to say how many Israeli troops were involved in the operation. He also wouldn't say how far Israeli troops had gotten into southern Lebanon but said they were close to the border.

An Israeli diplomat said his country has no intention of staying in Lebanon.

"This is in no way an invasion of Lebanon," said Dan Gillerman, Israeli ambassador to the United Nations. "We have no desire to enter Lebanon. We left it six years ago without any desire to go back.

"What we're doing is part of trying to make Hezbollah incapable of shelling our cities and our villages and to kill our citizens."

The IDF said a "small group" of Israeli troops has been traveling into Lebanon near the border fence for days. The goal is to pinpoint Hezbollah infrastructure such as mines and tunnels.

A CNN team in the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre heard explosions, drones and the helicopters throughout the night. The Helicopters appeared to fly to a point a few miles east and southeast of Tyre.

Tyre is about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the Israeli border. An IDF spokesman declined to say whether the helicopter movements there were linked to the ground operation.

As the military conflict entered its eighth day, Israeli airstrikes also pounded Beirut's southern suburbs near the main airport, triggering explosions that lit up the night.

From Lebanon, Hezbollah launched eight Katyusha rockets Wednesday morning into the northern Israeli city of Haifa, the IDF said, but no casualties were reported.

At least one person died Tuesday in the northern Israeli town of Nahariya when a rocket struck a house, Israeli medical sources said.

Israel launched an extensive bombing campaign against Hezbollah after the Shiite Muslim militia abducted two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid into northern Israel. Lebanon's government has demanded a cease-fire, but Israel insists it will keep up the attacks until the soldiers are freed.

The fighting has killed at least 25 people, including 13 civilians, in northern Israel.

Lebanese Internal Security Forces said Wednesday that 202 people had been killed, including 11 soldiers, and 488 wounded since the start of hostilities on July 12.

Also Wednesday, Israeli troops moved into central Gaza and fierce clashes erupted there, according to Palestinian security sources.

Fighting has been under way in Gaza since shortly after Hamas' military wing and two other militant groups captured Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit on June 25 in a raid into southern Israel. Hamas also has kept up a barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, and the Jewish state has said it will continue an offensive there until rockets stop and Shalit is returned safely.

'The most dangerous place'

Hezbollah officials gave CNN access into the southern suburbs of Beirut -- the area thought to house the organization's headquarters -- to show the damage inflicted on civilians there. They also wanted to show they do not house military stockpiles there, CNN's Nic Robertson reported.

Robertson said he could not confirm the group's assertions about what was housed in the area.

The tour was given in a whirlwind fashion. "You never know when Israeli jet fighters come and hit any target in this area," said Hussein Nabulsi, Hezbollah press officer. "It is very, very dangerous. We are now at the most dangerous place at the most dangerous moment."

Pausing before an apartment building, Nabulsi said, "Look what happened to this building, inhabited by innocent civilians ... no military bases, nothing."

He said he was surprised that the United Nations and international community had not expressed outrage at the damage inflicted on the Lebanese. "Where is the international community? Where is the Security Council? Where's the United Nations? Where's the whole world? We are under fire."

Israel peppered with rockets

Entering Tyre, a poster of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah could be seen. A billboard adorned with Hezbollah militia fighters says, "We stay and fight."

Many in Lebanese city support the militant group. Mohammed Swyel, 18, said he and his family evacuated their home near the Israeli border to allow Hezbollah rocket teams more space to maneuver and fire into Israel.

"Everybody in Lebanon needs Hezbollah," he said. "Of course, we need peace for this country but not over our dignity. Our dignity is first."

French army Maj. Eric Minoli, who is commanding a U.N. contingent, said he is sickened by what he has seen.

"The people are clearly terrorized. Many Lebanese are fleeing north," he said. "As a Frenchman and a United Nations soldier, I hope the diplomats work out a cease-fire."

The continuing violence is raising fears that others in the region would join the conflict.

Meanwhile, the evacuation of Westerners from Lebanon picked up steam Wednesday as foreign governments moved to get their citizens to safety by land, sea and air.

Hundreds of Westerners have piled on to cruise ships, but tens of thousands remain stranded in Beirut.

Source: CNN

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