Hezbollah rocket attack kills 2 in Haifa

story.bekaa.sun.afp.gi.gifThe barrage of rockets landing in and around Haifa Sunday morning wounded 11 people, witnesses and local officials said.

Explosions were heard just moments after air raid sirens sounded across the city.

At least three of the rockets landed inside Haifa and several fell on the outskirts of the city, including at Technion — the Israel Institute of Technology, Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said.

Another rocket made a direct hit on a house, said Rosenfeld.

CNN’s John Vause saw five rockets land in an industrial near Mount Carmel, northeast of Haifa.

The Israeli military earlier Sunday hit a building in the port city of Sidon that “serves Hezbollah,” the Israel Defense Forces said.

The IDF said its Beirut operations were in the southern portion of the capital — a Hezbollah stronghold — on the 12th day of conflict between Israel and the militant group.

CNN crews in Beirut counted 11 explosions in the city between midnight and 3:30 a.m. (5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Saturday ET).

Later Sunday morning, at least six Israeli bombs fell on the coastal city of Tyre in a 20-minute span, but it was not immediately clear what damage or casualties resulted.

There were no immediate reports of casualties in Beirut. Lebanese media reported three people were injured in Sidon.

Israeli airstrikes last week destroyed a bridge, targeted two gas stations and struck Sidon’s harbor.

In Tyre, south of Sidon, huge columns of smoke to rose on the horizon Sunday about two miles east and south of the center of the city, video showed.

Tyre has been one of the hardest hit areas since the Israeli airstrikes began. Hospitals in the city have reported at least 130 people killed there.

IDF: No claims to Lebanon territory

Denying that it plans a full-scale ground invasion, the Israeli military entered the southern Lebanese village of Maroun al-Ras Saturday, part of what it said was an effort to create a buffer and spare Israeli civilians from cross-border rocket attacks.

The Israeli military flushed Hezbollah fighters out of the village and will hold it until it can be handed over to a multinational force or the Lebanese army, the IDF said, adding that the security buffer will hamstring Hezbollah’s ability to launch rockets into northern Israel.

Maroun al-Ras is a few kilometers from the Israeli town of Avivim.

Israeli tanks and troops will attempt to enter several villages in the same manner, Israeli commanders said.

Lebanese citizens streamed out of the southern part of the country, prompted by IDF warnings to leave by 4 p.m. (9 a.m. ET). Israel said it wanted to warn civilians before targeting suspected Hezbollah hideouts in the area. “We have no desire — let me state this again — no desire to be an occupying force in the south of Lebanon,” IDF spokesman Capt. Guy Spiegelman told CNN early Sunday. “We left Lebanon six years ago. We have no claims over the territory there.

“We’d just like to live in peace at the international border. And we’re going to keep on carrying out operations from the air, land and sea until such a time as the Hezbollah is moved back from the border with Israel so they cannot strike our civilians and threaten their lives and threaten the daily life in the north of Israel,” Spiegelman said.

Hezbollah fighters in southern Lebanon fired more than 100 rockets into northern Israel on Saturday.

Israel hits phone, TV service

At 2 p.m. Saturday (7 a.m. ET), the IDF said it had struck 150 targets across Lebanon in the previous 24 hours.

Airstrikes toppled at least six transmission towers north of Beirut, disrupting phone and television service throughout northern Lebanon, a Lebanese government official said.

A Lebanese Broadcasting Corp. employee was killed and two others were wounded during the strikes at Mount Lebanon, according to the LBC.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that missiles struck relay stations for Future TV, Hezbollah-run Al-Manar television and the nation’s leading private network, LBC, but their satellite feeds were unaffected.

The conflict has raged since July 12, when Hezbollah militants killed three Israeli soldiers and kidnapped two others in a cross-border raid.

The IDF confirmed Sunday that the Israeli army had recovered and returned to Israel the body of a soldier who initially was classified as missing on Thursday.

CNN reported the body had been found Friday; the IDF said the delay in confirmation came because of a rule that relatives be informed before information is released.

More than 300 dead

The death brings the number of people who have died so far in the fighting to at least 301. Before Sunday’s attacks, the IDF said 35 Israelis, 15 of them civilians, had been killed. At least 266 Lebanese people have been killed, according to Lebanese officials.

More than 300 Israelis and 631 Lebanese have been wounded, the sources said. Although Israel has relied heavily on airstrikes and artillery during its offensive in Lebanon, thousands of Israeli troops began massing on the border Friday. Those troops numbered about 5,000 as of Saturday.

The Israeli military campaign against Hezbollah could end in about two or three weeks, diplomatic sources said, adding that a political solution — including the Lebanese army or a new international force taking control of southern Lebanon — would need to be in place before a cease-fire could be brokered. An international U.N. force already is in southern Lebanon. About 2,000 troops — including 50 military observers — and 400 civilians have been there since 1978.

The United States and Israel consider Hezbollah a terrorist organization. The group, which has claimed responsibility for terrorist acts, also operates an extensive network of social services in Lebanon. Its political wing holds seats in the Lebanese parliament.

Diplomatic developments


  • U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Friday that he feared “a major humanitarian disaster” if the violence did not end soon. 


  • President Bush underscored U.S. support for Israeli attacks on Hezbollah, saying the guerillas are backed by Iran and Syria, and provoked Israel’s response. The address came the day before Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is to head to the region on a diplomatic mission. 


  • The U.S. State Department says more than 10,000 Americans have been transported out of Lebanon since last Sunday. Other Western nations are continuing to pull their citizens out of the country.
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