Israel vows to destroy Hizbullah
Bombardment of Lebanon continues as Israelis told to stock up on supplies

Conal Urquhart in Tel Aviv
Friday July 14, 2006
The Guardian

Israeli jets continued to bomb Lebanon on Friday, hitting the airport and 18 other targets as Jerusalem threatened to escalate its attack on the besieged country even further. Three people were killed. Hizbullah fired 13 more rockets at northern Israel, but caused little damage.

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis were advised to stock up on essential supplies on Friday morning before returning to their bomb shelters by noon. The residents of northern Israel had emerged from their shelters after a relatively quiet night. On Thursday more than 150 Hizbullah rockets had been fired, killing two people.

Israeli officials and politicians said there would be no end the campaign to destroy Hizbullah and free two Israeli soldiers. They expected Hizbullah to continue to fire some of its estimated 12,000 missiles over the weekend.

The soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, were captured by Hizbullah guerrillas in a cross-border raid on Wednesday to be used to barter for the release of Lebanese prisoners. Eight Israeli soldiers and a Hizbullah fighter were killed in the raid.

The calm in the north of Israel was bought at the expense of the residents of southern Lebanon and Beirut, who were bombarded by the Israeli air force throughout Thursday night.

Israeli aircraft hit offices, fuel depots, roads, bridges and junctions, killing three people and injuring 50, according to news agencies. About 50 people, including four Brazilians, have been killed since Israel started attacking Lebanon.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli army said aircraft had targeted 18 sites, including the airport, the offices of Hizbullah in Beirut, and bridges and sections of road on the Beirut-Damascus highway. The conflict has affected both the Lebanese and Israeli economies. Tourists in both countries have fled and stocks and currency values have plummeted.

Yet Israeli officials vowed to escalate the conflict and assassinate Hassan Nasrallah, the Hizbullah leader.

Israeli commentators wrote that the country would profit from the crisis by pushing Hizbullah away from the Israeli border.

Amnon Dankner, the editor of the newspaper Ma'ariv, said it was ironic that Amir Peretz, the defence minister, and Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, who had never been senior military men, had the task of repairing the damage done by Israel's previous prime ministers, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Barak, who were both decorated generals. This damage included allowing Hizbullah to deploy thousands of missiles close to the border and exchanging hundreds of prisoners for the bodies of Israelis and a single hostage, he said.

Other commentators compared Israel's situation to Britain's during the time of the blitz and said "everything is permissible" in the campaign against Lebanon.

The crisis in the north has completely overshadowed the situation in Gaza, where Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit remains a captive of Hamas and the already desperate living conditions of Gazans continue to deteriorate.

Piles of rubbish are mounting in the streets as there is no fuel for garbage trucks. The shortage of electricity, caused by airstrikes on a power station, means there is not enough power to pump sewage or water. Untreated sewage is running directly into the sea and crowds gather round water tanks to fill jerry cans and plastic bottles.

Virtually no wages have been paid to employees of the Palestinian Authority and the rest of the economy is at a standstill. Israel allows enough fuel and food to enter but Gazans cannot leave or enter the strip. Thousands have been stuck on the Egyptian border waiting to return home. The Red Cross reported that four people had died because of the lack of shelter and services.

Israel pulled its forces out of central Gaza overnight, although they remain in the south near Rafah. The air force continued to bomb parts of Gaza, hitting buildings, roads and bridges, and the army shelled northern Gaza, where a man was killed when a tank fired at his car.

Since the offensive began, Israeli forces have killed 86 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier in a friendly fire incident. Many of the dead were gunmen, but about a fifth were civilians.The latest victim was a 10-year-old boy who died in a hospital on Friday, four days after being wounded in Beit Lahiya in the north.

On Friday, the Israeli army said that three Qassam rockets had landed in the city of Sderot in northern Israel without causing any damage.