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Israel Continues Bombing Lebanon, Hezbollah Rockets Hit Haifa


Israel's third largest city, Haifa, was struck by a series of Hezbollah rocket attacks on Monday. One three-story building was damaged after being struck by a rocket. Israeli air strikes killed more than 30 people in Lebanon Monday, bringing to more than 200, the number of people killed in Lebanon since fighting began last week. More than 20 Israelis have died since fighting began last week.

Air raid sirens sounded throughout the day as Haifa was struck repeatedly by rocket fire. Late Monday, Israel's transport ministry closed the Haifa port. The Hezbollah attacks on Israel came as Israeli warplanes carried out scores of strikes against targets in Lebanon, focusing on the southern suburbs of Beirut where Hezbollah militants are based.

Israeli government spokeswoman Miri Eisen says Israel is also targeting sites where it believes Hezbollah rockets are based.

"We are trying to pinpoint the different rockets and fire and target them in Lebanon," she explained. "There is no question that they (Hezbollah) have an advantage being able to fire them. Israel will continue to attack any place we know that there are rockets or that rockets have been fired."

Israel also brushed aside a proposal from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and British Prime Minister Tony Blair to send an international peacekeeping force to Lebanon.

Spokeswoman Miri Eisen says Israel welcomes any plan to implement U.N. resolution 1559 on Lebanon, which calls for the deployment of the Lebanese military along the border and for the disarming of militant groups such as Hezbollah. But she says Israel does not believe international peacekeepers working under the auspices of the United Nations would help end the crisis.

"When it comes to the United Nations forces, let me point out that there has been a dissonance between the declared United Nations policy when it comes to Security Council resolution 1559 and the actions of the United Nations forces in Lebanon who have been there since 1978," she said.

Leaders of the world's largest industrialized nations meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia have blamed the violence on Hezbollah and demanded that the militant group release two Israeli soldiers it is holding. They also called for Israel to exercise restraint.

Speaking after talks in Syria, Iran's Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, said he believed a cease-fire and an exchange of prisoners could defuse the crisis. Following talks in Beirut, senior U.N. Envoy Vijay Nambiar traveled to Israel, saying he saw promising first efforts toward ending the crisis.

Meanwhile, an Israeli soldier was killed and six others wounded in the West Bank city of Nablus, in an ambush by Palestinian militants. The attack followed an Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip that destroyed the headquarters building of the Hamas-controlled Palestinian foreign ministry in Gaza City.

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