Israel's prime minister on Sunday threatened "far-reaching consequences" for a Hezbollah rocket attack on the Israeli city of Haifa that left at least eight people dead and more than 20 others wounded. The attack raised the death toll in Israel to more than 20, while more than 100 people have died in Lebanon in Israeli strikes.
Sunday's rocket attack on Israel's third largest city, Haifa was the worst to strike Israel since Hezbollah guerillas killed eight Israeli soldiers and captured two others last week, sparking the latest crisis in the Middle East.
A barrage of rockets hit Haifa, including several that are more advanced than the Katyusha rockets that Hezbollah has been firing into northern Israel over the past few days. One of the rockets struck a storage and maintenance area at Haifa's main railroad station, causing the casualties. Other rockets landed near a large oil refinery and petro-chemical complex. Speaking at his weekly cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says Israel will not stand by and allow its cities and towns to be attacked.
The Israeli Prime Minister says the Hezbollah attacks will have "far-reaching consequences," and that nothing will deter Israel from its goal of pushing Hezbollah out of southern Lebanon where it can threaten Israel.
Hezbollah continued to fire rockets into communities across northern Israel on Sunday.
Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav told VOA that among the rockets that have hit Haifa are some clearly designed to cause massive civilian casualties.
"The specialty of these rockets is that they contain thousands of metal bullets which are going to be spread around when the rocket hits the ground," he said. "In this respect, it has the same effect as the belt of a suicide bomber."
Israel launched multiple air and artillery strikes against targets in Lebanon for a fifth day on Sunday, striking the south Beirut neighborhood where Hezbollah headquarters is located. The Hezbollah television station al-Manar was repeatedly knocked off-the-air on Sunday.
Israeli officials say their offensive is designed to push Hezbollah guerillas out of areas where they can threaten Israel. Israel is insisting that the Lebanese Army move into those areas as called for by United Nations Security Council resolutions, something successive Lebanese governments have been unable to accomplish. Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres says Israel has no designs on Lebanese territory.
"We do not want anything from Lebanon, not land, not water, not influence," said Peres. "The only thing we want is to live in peace. If Lebanon can do it we welcome it. If not, we have to defend ourselves and we shall do so."
International concerns over Israel's Lebanon offensive are growing. French and Russian leaders have called for a show of moderation. Both British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George Bush have blamed Hezbollah for sparking the crisis. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Sunday said the United States is deeply concerned about mounting civilian casualties in Lebanon, but that an immediate cease-fire would not end the crisis.