Israel's Cabinet has approved military action in Lebanon in response to an attack by Islamic Hezbollah guerillas in which two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped. It was the second kidnapping of soldiers in two weeks, and Israel is trying to restore its deterrent capability.
The Israeli Cabinet held an emergency meeting after the most serious attack by Hezbollah since Israel pulled out Lebanon six years ago.
Hezbollah guerillas ambushed an Israeli patrol on the Lebanese border and then an Israeli tank was blown up as it crossed into Lebanon to search for the two soldiers taken hostage. Eight soldiers were killed and Israel is furious.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the attack was an act of war and there would be a painful response. Sources say the Cabinet approved air strikes against Hezbollah facilities and Lebanese infrastructure, with the stated aim of removing the Hezbollah threat from the northern border.
"It must be clear, Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government, they are part of the ruling coalition there, and the government of Lebanon is both responsible and accountable for what has happened," said Mark Regev. "This is an act of international aggression by one state against another," said Israeli spokesman Mark Regev.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said the attack was justified.
Nasrallah demanded that Israel open negotiations on a prisoner swap. Israel refused, just as it has rejected Palestinian demands to release prisoners in exchange for a soldier kidnapped on the Gaza border two and a half weeks ago.
Israeli forces have been pounding Gaza since then, and now the conflict has spread to a second front in Lebanon.