Israel Decides Not to Expand Offensive

By HUSSEIN DAKROUB, Associated Press Writer
1 hour ago

JERUSALEM - Top Israeli Cabinet ministers on Thursday decided not to expand the country's Lebanon offensive, Israel Radio reported. But they approved calling up three additional divisions of reserve soldiers. Meanwhile, a Hezbollah rocket hit a laundry detergent plant in the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shemona, officials said.

A warehouse was set on fire, but no one was inside, and there was no threat of toxic materials being released into the air, a police commander said.

During a meeting of the security Cabinet on whether to expand the attacks in Lebanon, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the goals of the offensive are being met.

The decision came as the military pounded suspected Hezbollah positions across Lebanon on Thursday. The attacks extended the air campaign a day after the military suffered its highest one-day casualty toll since the offensive began.

An Israeli Cabinet minister said lack of agreement on a cease-fire gave Israel permission to press deeper to wipe out the Islamic militant group.

The airstrikes also hit a Lebanese army base and a radio relay station and destroyed several roads. The series of raids in northern, eastern and southern Lebanon killed at least one person and wounded others.

On Wednesday, a high-level Mideast conference in Rome ended in disagreement, with most European leaders urging an immediate cease-fire, but the U.S. willing to give Israel more time to punish the guerrilla group.