New Airstrike Launched At Hezbollah

An Israeli armored personnel carrier maneuvers Friday shortly after coming out of Lebanon.
An Israeli armored personnel carrier maneuvers Friday shortly after coming out of Lebanon.
Smoke billows from the southern Lebanon town of Nabatiye after an Israeli attack Thursday.
Smoke billows from the southern Lebanon town of Nabatiye after an Israeli attack Thursday.

Israeli warplanes hit more than 100 Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon before dawn Friday, while northern Israeli towns spent another tense morning under a rain of rockets fired from across the border.

These targets included rocket launchers, Hezbollah structures, tunnels, a gas station and a base in the Bekaa Valley where the Israel Defense Forces said Hezbollah launched long-range missiles.

At least 14 Hezbollah rockets landed in northern Israel by midday Friday -- mostly near Kiryat Shmona and Galilee, police said.

Aerial footage showed sparsely populated highways and little activity in the area, including in Haifa, Israel's third largest city.

As the fighting continues unabated, British Prime Minister Tony Blair traveled to Washington to confer with President Bush.

Blair faces increasing pressure to distance himself from the U.S. leader's stance on the Mideast crisis and his opposition to an immediate cease-fire.

On the diplomatic front, Norway disputed reports that it would take part in an international peacekeeping force aimed at defusing the crisis in southern Lebanon.

But France, Italy and Turkey on Thursday all indicated a willingness to participate in the force if a cease-fire can be brokered first, according to diplomatic sources familiar with discussions at this week's emergency summit in Rome, Italy.

Fifty-one Israelis -- including 33 soldiers -- have died and 1,233 Israelis -- 1,123 civilians and 110 soldiers -- have been wounded in 17 days of fighting, Israeli ambulance service officials said Friday.

Lebanese security forces said Friday that 398 Lebanese have been killed and 1,661 have been wounded since the attacks began. An unspecified number of people also are trapped under rubble, they said. The Lebanese toll was lowered from 405 deaths after the discovery of a duplication in the names of the deceased.

Hezbollah has not officially released any casualty figures, but Israeli military sources estimate about 200 of its fighters have been killed since July 12, when the militant group sparked the crisis by capturing two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid.

On Gaza front

In a second front overshadowed by the conflict in Lebanon, Israeli tanks and troops that entered northern Gaza earlier this week moved out Thursday night after completing their mission, the IDF said.

Three Israeli airstrikes left 10 people wounded Thursday, Palestinian security sources said. The IDF had no immediate comment.

Israeli forces have moved in and out of Gaza several times since June 25, when Palestinian militants, including members of Hamas' military wing, captured an Israeli soldier.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas indicated Thursday there may be developments soon on the issue of the abducted soldier. Abbas didn't elaborate.

Israeli troops to be called up

The Israeli campaign in Lebanon is aimed at "changing the reality on the northern border," Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz said Thursday.

"Hezbollah must not in the future be what it has been in the past," Peretz said. "This may take time and it may take more force. We have both in plenty."

Israel on Thursday decided not to expand its military offensive in Lebanon but will call up troops to bolster its fight against Hezbollah.

Three additional reserve divisions, totaling 30,000 troops, would be called up, according to The New York Times.

Meanwhile, al Qaeda's second in command pledged Thursday that the terror group would not "stay silent" on the conflict in southern Lebanon and called for "jihad" on Israel.

Source: CNN