View Full Version : IDF Carving Out South Lebanon Buffer Zone; Lebanese PM: 900 Dead In IDF Offensive

08-03-2006, 07:19 AM
IDF carving out south Lebanon buffer zone; Lebanese PM: 900 dead in IDF offensive


By Ze'ev Schiff, Amos Harel and Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondents, Haaretz Service and Agencies

Israel Defense Forces soldiers and Hezbollah gunmen were involved in fierce battles Thursday afternoon in south Lebanon.

The IDF is planning a new defensive line in southern Lebanon that will be six to eight kilometers north of the Israeli border.

By 2 P.M., IDF troops had established positions overlooking 11 south Lebanese towns and villages up to six kilometers north of the Israeli border.

The area that the IDF is bringing under its control is effectively the same security zone it held until the pullout from Lebanon in May 2000.

Israel Air Force warplanes renewed strikes against Hezbollah strongholds in the battered outskirts of the Lebanese capital in the early hours of Thursday, as well as on Lebanon's northern border with Syria and in the eastern Bekaa Valley.

Lebanese security officials said an IAF missile slammed into a house in the border village of Taibeh on Thursday morning, killing a family of three.

A missile crashed into the two-story house of Hani Abdo Marmar, killing him instantly along with his wife and child, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to make statements to the media.

The three victims were buried under the rubble of their house, which was flattened, witnesses said.

More than an hour after the strike, the Lebanese Red Cross was unable to reach Taibeh to pull out the bodies, because of fierce fighting in the village, witnesses said.

IDF reserve soldiers operating in southwestern Lebanon killed four Hezbollah gunmen before dawn Thursday. They also destroyed two rocket launchers and a warehouse in which rockets were stored.

Another house was hit in the south Lebanese village of Qleia. An Associated Press reporter saw two IAF missiles slam into the house, igniting a fire that sent a column of heavy black smoke up from the site. The frame of the house remained standing, but it was burning and gutted.

IDF artillery shells soared into nearby hills sporadically, sometimes as many as 15 a minute.

In the southern Lebanese town of Nabatiyeh, fighter jets struck an ambulance working for a local Muslim group, Lebanese security officials said. They also hit the village of Zarariyeh, about 10 kilometers away, destroying roads and some deserted houses there.

Six missiles struck roads in the southern villages of Mlita and Ein Bouswar in the Iqlim al Tuffah province, a highland apple-growing region where Hezbollah is believed to have offices and bases, security officials said. IAF warplanes returned to the province hours later for additional raids.

Witnesses said at least four missiles hit south Beirut, a Shiite Muslim sector that has been repeatedly hit by Israel since fighting began three weeks ago. Lebanese television said the attacks targeted several buildings in a Hezbollah compound in the al-Ruweis neighborhood, which had been hit several times before.

An IDF soldier was killed in fierce gunfights in south Lebanon on Wednesday night, as ground forces continued battling with Hezbollah militants near the border. Fifteen IDF soldiers were lightly wounded in battles on Thursday morning and evacuated to hospital in Israel.

Witnesses said at least four explosions reverberated through Beirut as missiles hit Dahieh, a Shiite Muslim suburb that has been repeatedly shelled by Israel since fighting began three weeks ago.

Residents heard the impact of a large explosion about every five minutes starting at 2:30 A.M., as missiles apparently targeted areas close to Hezbollah's headquarters in Dahieh, a neighborhood to the south of the capital that has been partly flattened by air strikes in previous weeks.

It was the first air raid against the Lebanese capital's suburb in almost a week.

Lebanese television said the attacks targeted several buildings in a Hezbollah compound of Dahieh's al-Ruweis neighborhood. The compound, which includes a center for religious teaching, has been attacked in earlier raids and sustained sizeable damage.

Sergeant Adi Cohen, 18, from Hadera was killed and two other soldiers were seriously wounded in the fighting Wednesday. Cohen will be buried at the military section in Hadera cemetery at 5 P.M. Thursday.

Lebanon: More than 900 dead
Israel's three-week-old offensive against Hezbollah in Lebanon has killed more than 900 people and wounded 3,000, with a third of the casualties children under 12, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said Thursday.

Siniora, in a video message to a summit of leaders of the Muslim world, added that a quarter of the population, or one million people, had been displaced.