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Israel Strikes New Targets in Lebanon


Israel on Saturday carried out air strikes against targets across Lebanon, killing at least four civilians. More than 60 Lebanese, nearly all civilians have been killed since Israel launched a military offensive four days targeting Hezbollah guerrillas who killed eight Israeli soldiers and captured two others on Wednesday. Four Israeli civilians have been killed by Hezbollah rockets in northern Israel. Israel has also confirmed that four sailors are missing and presumed dead after a Hezbollah strike on an Israeli navy vessel late Friday.

Israel targeted bridges, gas stations and fuel storage depots on Saturday. Air Force General Ido Nehushtan says Israel will use its overwhelming air superiority to push Hezbollah out of southern Lebanon.

"We are willing and prepared to do whatever it takes. We of course are looking for the restoration of peace there, but nevertheless we have the means," he said. "The larger portion of the campaign and the operation is based on attacks from the air. We are using fighters and attack helicopters and mostly precision guided munitions in the operation so far."

Israel says it holds Lebanon responsible for Hezbollah's kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers and is demanding that the Lebanese Army move into positions in southern Lebanon occupied by Hezbollah guerrillas. Lebanon's government has asked the United Nations Security Council to act immediately to stop the fighting.

President Bush has expressed concern over how the fighting might affect the stability of the Lebanese government, but says he will not make military decisions for Israel. However, he also says he blames Hezbollah for the violence.

Hezbollah has responded to the Israeli attacks with missile strikes across northern Israel. Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah has threatened to bring open war to Israel, targeting Israel's third largest city Haifa, which has already been struck for the first time in its history by Katyusha rocket fire from Lebanon. Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav says like the residents of his city he is prepared but also concerned.

"Definitely I am worried, because this is a new game and a new reality that we are being bombed by terrorists, and by rockets which can hit residential areas," said Yahav. "So, you can never know what will happen."

Meanwhile Israel continued air strikes in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, one day after Israeli ground forces pulled out of the central Gaza Strip saying they had completed their mission for the time being. Israeli forces remain in other parts of the Gaza Strip where they are continuing to search for an Israeli serviceman seized by Palestinian militants last month.

Late Friday Palestinian militants blew a hole in the border wall between Gaza and Egypt allowing hundreds of Palestinians to cross into Gaza from Egyptian territory, where they had been stranded since the border was closed two weeks ago.

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