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Israeli troops raid Lebanese village
Yahoo News/AP
July 22, 2006

ON THE ISRAEL-LEBANON BORDER - Hundreds of Israeli troops moved in and out of Lebanon Saturday, taking control of a village and engaging Hezbollah militants by land, sea and air as part of the country's limited ground campaign.

Israeli fighter bombers fired missiles at transmission towers in the central and northern Lebanese mountains, knocking three television stations off the air and cutting phone links to some regions. Israeli warplanes targeting a truck hit a Christian suburb of Beirut earlier this week, but Saturday's raids were the first major airstrikes in the Christian heartland.

The 11-day-old Israeli air campaign has hammered mainly Shiite Muslim regions in southern and eastern Lebanon as well as Beirut's southern suburbs.

Thousands of Israeli troops are massed along the border but so far Israel has ruled out a large-scale ground incursion to sweep Hezbollah out of the area.

Early Saturday soldiers backed by artillery and tank fire moved into the large village of Maroun al-Ras on the Lebanese side of the border and took control, military officials said on condition of anonymity.

Lebanese security sources, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, disputed the account though, and said that the Israeli military had made incursions of only a few hundred yards into the Maroun al-Ras and Yaroun villages.

But an AP reporter on the Israeli side of the border saw Israeli troops head into Maroun al-Ras and said they were still fighting with some Hezbollah militants. At one point, a half-ton bomb hit a Hezbollah outpost near Maroun al-Ras.

More positions were bombarded by Israeli gunboats operating off the coast. In Marwahin, also along the border, Israeli troops recovered anti-tank missiles, a launcher, and other weapons used by Hezbollah. The army said that more than 150 Hezbollah targets in Lebanon had been attacked.

The raid was part of Israel's wider strategy of running a "limited" ground operation aimed at destroying Hezbollah's tunnels, hideouts and weapons stashes in south Lebanon.

Hezbollah has fired hundreds of rockets at northern Israeli towns from north of the Lebanese border, killing 16 civilians and forcing hundreds of thousands of Israelis to repeatedly flee into bunkers.

On Saturday, at least 42 rockets struck Karmiel, injuring two people, while rockets also fell on Kiriyat Shemona, Nahariya and smaller communities such as Bet Hilel, Mayan Baruch and Mashov Am.

Air raid sirens sounded several times in Haifa, Israel's third-largest city, but no rocket strikes were reported.

Israel's army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, on Friday said the military would conduct "limited ground operations as much as needed in order to harm the terror that harms us" — leaving it unclear how deep and how powerful the Israeli punch into Lebanon would be.

Israel's goal is not to create a buffer zone as it did during its occupation of southern Lebanon from 1982 to 2000, said a senior military official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the topic's military sensitivity.

Instead, Israel wants to weaken Hezbollah to make it easier for the Lebanese army to move into areas previously controlled by the guerrillas, possibly with the aid of a stronger international peacekeeping force, the official said.

An Israeli ground incursion, however, could dramatically increase the pain in Lebanon. More than 400,000 people live south of the Litani River, north of which Israel wants to push Hezbollah. Though tens of thousands have left, many are believed still there, trapped because roads were damaged by Israeli bombs or afraid of being caught in the airstrikes on thoroughfares.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will visit the Middle East on Sunday, her first trip to the region since the crisis erupted 11 days ago — even as she ruled out a quick cease-fire as a "false promise."

Rice was headed to Rome for meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the Palestinian president and U.S. allies, before heading to the Middle East.

In Beirut, ships continued to arrive at the main port, part of a massive evacuation effort to pull out Americans and other foreigners.

France, the United Nations and Red Cross demanded Israel open humanitarian corridors to allow life's necessities — shelter, food, water and medicine — to reach the swelling numbers of displaced people — an estimated half-million.

Responding to a U.S. request, Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz said French aid would be allowed into Lebanon's port of Sidon.

The Lebanese health ministry reported 362 deaths in Lebanon so far in the onslaught, an increase of 55 since it release figures on Thursday. Thirty-four Israelis also have been killed, including 18 soldiers and an air force officer killed Friday in the collision of two helicopters.

Original Text

Americans were held hostage for 444 days during the late 70's and early 80's. In fact, US personnel were held hostage throughtout the entire Reagan Administration and we didn't destroy Iran. Anyone who supports this barbaric country (Israel) is uncivilized.