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Israel to Press Fight Despite Cease-Fire Calls


Israeli warplanes hit suspected Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon, despite Israel's promise to suspend air strikes for a 48-hour period. And, the Israeli Prime Minister said there would be no cease-fire in the coming days.

Israeli jets struck parts of southern Lebanon again, and an unmanned drone aircraft fired a missile at what Lebanese security sources said was a truck carrying aid from Syria. In another incident, Israel apologized for killing a Lebanese soldier in a strike against a car. Israel said it thought the vehicle was carrying a senior Hezbollah militant.

Near Lebanon's southern border there were continued clashes reported with Hezbollah fighters.

Israel said it would suspend air strikes for 48 hours after a missile attack Sunday hit a residential building in the village of Qana, killing at least 56 people, mostly women and children.

That attack caused an international outcry and increased pressure for an immediate truce.

But addressing mayors of northern Israeli towns, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was adamant, saying there would be no cease-fire in the coming days.

Mr. Olmert said the fight against Hezbollah will continue and will only stop when the threat of Hezbollah rockets is removed from Israel's northern border and when the two soldiers Hezbollah captured July 12 are returned.

The prime minister said Israel is sorry for the pain its military operations are causing Lebanese civilians, but he said Israel will not apologize for its actions against Hezbollah.

Mr. Olmert said the Israeli offensive has already inflicted a heavy blow on Hezbollah from which, he said, the group may never recover. He said Israel would pursue the group's leaders anywhere and anytime.

Earlier, Israel's Defense Minister Amir Peretz said the military plans to "expand and strengthen" its operations against Hezbollah.

But, there was a lull in the fighting and Lebanese civilians took advantage of it to flee villages in the south, where many had been trapped with little food and water during the more than two weeks of fighting.

Before leaving Jerusalem early Monday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she thought a cease-fire was possible this week.

Speaking in Miami, President Bush said the United States will work with its allies to end the fighting, but repeated Washington's position that a cease-fire must be coupled with a plan to address the root causes of violence in the Middle East.

The focus has been on quick action by the United Nations. But, a U.N. meeting to discuss the formation of an international peacekeeping force for Lebanon was abruptly postponed.

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