Rockets strike Haifa, Israeli towns - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/21/06-BEIRUT, Lebanon

Rockets strike Haifa, Israeli towns

An Israeli man walks by a tank near Lebanon. An Israeli man walks by a tank near Lebanon.
Israeli artillery fires at targets in southern Lebanon early Friday as the conflict enters a 10th day. Israeli artillery fires at targets in southern Lebanon early Friday as the conflict enters a 10th day.
Israeli troops take up positions near the border with Lebanon on Thursday. Israeli troops take up positions near the border with Lebanon on Thursday.
Israeli firefighters extinguish flames after a helicopter crashed in northern Israel. Israeli firefighters extinguish flames after a helicopter crashed in northern Israel.

 Rockets struck Haifa and other Israeli towns in a fresh wave of attacks from Lebanon on Friday, Israeli officials said.

Ten people were hurt in the port city of Haifa and Hezbollah rockets also hit the towns of Meron, Safed, Yiron, and Avivim, Israeli medical officials said.

Israel also launched new military strikes inside Lebanon on the 10th day of violence since Hezbollah guerrillas captured two Israeli soldiers.

Israeli forces said a Katyusha rocket struck a United Nations observation post in southern Lebanon near the Israeli village of Zarit, Friday. There were no immediate reports of casualties, according to Israel Defense Forces.

IDF said it had struck 40 targets in Lebanon overnight, including Hezbollah headquarters, missile-launching sites along the Israel-Lebanon border, rocket launchers, vehicles and access routes.

The military said on Friday it is ready to call up a few thousand reserve troops to augment its military deployment in southern Lebanon. .

About 1,000 Israeli troops have been sent into southern Lebanon to conduct pinpoint operations against Hezbollah strongholds, sources told CNN.

Israel dropped leaflets in southern Lebanon urging residents to leave their homes and move north of the Litani River -- 25 miles from the Israeli-Lebanese border.

Lebanese President Emile Lahoud said the Lebanese army is "ready to defend" the country's territory if Israel launches a ground invasion.

"Of course, the army is going to defend its land, and inside Lebanon, they can do a lot," he told CNN.

"They cannot be strong enough to be against Israel on the frontier."

Earlier Friday two Israeli Apache attack helicopters collided and crashed in northern Israel near the border town of Avivim, the IDF said. One pilot was killed and three others on board the aircraft were injured.

Two Israeli soldiers were confirmed dead Friday after battling Hezbollah guerrillas Thursday in southern Lebanon, the IDF told CNN.

The Israeli military says its air assault has destroyed about half of Hezbollah's military strength. It is using ground forces to target Hezbollah artillery, believed hidden in caves, tunnels and basements in southern Lebanon.

CNN cannot independently confirm Israel's estimation of Hezbollah's military strength.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah told Al-Jazeera television on Thursday that Israel's claims of eliminating half of Hezbollah's fighting capacity were untrue.

The Lebanese security forces said Thursday that 258 civilians have been killed and another 582 injured. But in a speech to diplomats in Beirut the day before, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora put the death toll higher -- at more than 300 -- and said the wounded numbered about 1,000.

The newly reported deaths in southern Lebanon bring the number of confirmed Israeli military fatalities to 19, with another 15 civilians reported killed.

Cease-fire demands

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan demanded "an immediate cessation of hostilities" to prevent further loss of life, allow for humanitarian relief and give diplomacy a chance, in an address to the Security Council Thursday.

Israel has rejected calls for a cease-fire until it can push Hezbollah back from its northern frontier and retrieve its captured soldiers.

The United States and Israel consider Hezbollah a terrorist organization. The group, which has claimed responsibility for terrorist acts, also operates an extensive network of social services in Lebanon, and its political wing holds seats in the Lebanese parliament.

Israeli forces spent more than two decades occupying parts of southern Lebanon after a 1978 invasion to set up a buffer against guerrilla attacks. The United Nations verified Israel's pullout in 2000.

Clashes in Gaza

A Palestinian militant and four others died in an attack on a Gaza City home Friday, Palestinian sources said.

Earlier Friday, Israeli tanks and troops withdrew from the Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza after a deadly two-day raid, the Israel Defense Forces announced.

Israel is continuing its military operation in Gaza, with the stated aim of stopping Palestinian militant attacks on Israel and recovering a soldier captured in June.

Some 19 Palestinians have been killed since Tuesday, according to Palestinian sources.

In other developments:

  • The Red Cross sent 22 tons of food and supplies, along with a nutritionist and a surgeon, from Beirut to Tyre on Friday, according to the international relief agency. On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert approved the establishment of a humanitarian corridor on the Mediterranean to allow the passage of international aid to Lebanese civilians via Cyprus, an Israeli government official said.

  • The pace of the departure of Americans from Lebanon in the face of bombing by Israeli warplanes quickened Thursday, as more ships moved into position off Beirut and made the 100-mile dash to Cyprus.
  • Source: CNN

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