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Israel Blockades Lebanon by Sea and Air, Hezbollah Threatens to Hit Haifa


Israel has bombed Beirut airport and imposed a sea and air blockade on Lebanon in a military campaign to free two Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah guerrillas Wednesday.

Lebanon's only international airport closed after bombs shattered its runways. Another Israeli air strike hit a Hezbollah television station on the outskirts of Beirut.

Hezbollah guerrillas fired rockets at northern Israel Thursday, killing a woman in the border town of Nahariya and injuring at least 29 others there. Hezbollah rockets also fell on the Galilee town of Safed, wounding several people.

Also today, Israel threatened to bombard the southern suburbs of Beirut, a Hezbollah stronghold. Hezbollah threatened to shell Haifa, Israel's third largest city, if Israel hits Beirut and its Shi'ite suburbs.

Security officials in Lebanon say at least 40 civilians have been killed by Israeli air strikes since Wednesday, while Israel says eight of its soldiers have died.

Lebanon's government says it was not involved in the Hezbollah attack on the Israeli soldiers.

Tank-supported Israeli troops moved into Lebanon after Hezbollah guerrillas kidnapped two soldiers during a cross-border raid Wednesday.

Israel has bombed bridges and roads in southern Lebanon and the approaches to Beirut in an attempt to stop the militants from moving their captives.

Hezbollah says it wants to negotiate a prisoner swap, citing thousands of Arab prisoners in Israeli jails. Israel says it will not negotiate a swap.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has called the soldiers' capture an "act of war" by Lebanon.

This is Israel's first major incursion into Lebanon since it withdrew from that country six years ago.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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