Lebanon PM pleads for ceasefire
Israeli strikes are targeting Lebanese infrastructure



Lebanon's prime minister has made an emotional appeal for a ceasefire as Israel continues its attacks sparked by Hezbollah's capture of two soldiers.

Fouad Siniora urged the UN to supervise a truce to end Israeli raids that have killed more than 80 Lebanese.

Hezbollah on Saturday launched rockets at Tiberias in the deepest such attack on Israel. Four Israelis were injured.

Early on Sunday, Israel began a fifth day of bombardments, targeting the group's al-Manar TV station in Beirut.

According to the station, Israeli air-to-ground and gunboat shells hit a bridge on the road from the Beirut to the airport, south of the city centre.

Residential areas in the Haret Hreik and Bir al-Abed districts also came under attack, the TV said.

The Israeli Army has said any responsibility for endangering the civilian population rested with Hezbollah.

Disaster zone
The conflict has also dominated the G8 summit in Russia whose president called for "maximum effort" to defuse tension.

And the Arab League added to calls for the UN to act - its secretary general said the Middle East peace process was dead.

Mr Siniora asked all Lebanese to be united and stand behind their government.

He said his government knew nothing of Hezbollah's border raid that captured the two Israeli soldiers and left eight more dead last Wednesday.

Mr Siniora called the Israeli operation a "murderous machine" but said Lebanon would prevail.

He added: "Lebanon is a disaster zone... and [it] pleads to its friends in the world to rush to its aid."

Israel expanded its bombardment on Saturday, attacking a large number of targets across the country.

Warplanes fired rockets on the Lebanon-Syrian border and hit the centre of Beirut for the first time on Saturday.

Eighteen Lebanese civilians, including women and children, were killed on the coastal road to the southern city of Tyre when their vehicles were struck by missiles as they fled a village.

Hezbollah's offices in Beirut were destroyed. The militant group injured four Israelis in cross-border rocket attacks on Tiberias.

Israel has deployed Patriot interceptor missiles in the northern port city of Haifa which was hit by rockets earlier.

It also warned Lebanon not to fire on Israeli aircraft.

"Israel has avoided harming the Lebanese army until now, but Israel will not hesitate to strike at any party that operates against it," a military spokeswoman said.

'Wider objectives'
In Cairo, Arab foreign ministers holding an emergency conference blamed the current outbreak of violence on the failure of the Middle East peace process.

Secretary General Amr Moussa said the process was dead.

The final resolution of the meeting called for an immediate ceasefire and a plan to take the Arab-Israeli conflict back to the UN Security Council.

At the G8 summit in St Petersburg, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the world to make the "maximum effort" to defuse tension.

He condemned "terrorist acts that involve kidnapping people".

But he added: "We have the impression that, besides rescuing the servicemen who have been abducted, Israel is pursuing other, wider objectives."

US President George W Bush put the blame squarely on Hezbollah and said Syria should act to curb the group's operations.

Thousands of foreigners are leaving Beirut, leaving its economy in tatters.

Countries including the US and France are making plans to evacuate their nationals from Lebanon.