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Israeli air strikes close Beirut airport
by ALJ
Wednesday Jul 12th, 2006 9:41 PM
Beirut's Rafiq Hariri airport has been closed after Israeli air strikes on the runways, according to according to a Lebanese aerounautic source.
The closure of the airport on Thursday came after witnesses reported at least two strikes on the facility's eastern runway while Lebanese anti-aircraft batteries fired at Israeli fighter jets.

Until then, the bombing had targeted bridges linking south Lebanon to the rest of the country.

In southern Lebanon, at least 22 civilians were reported killed in overnight Israeli attacks, including a family of 12 in the village of Dweir, leading TV station LBC reported.

Israel has launched a series of air raids deep into Lebanon after fighters from Hezbollah, the Lebanese resistance group, killed eight Israeli soldiers and captured two in a cross-border attack.

Israel described Wednesday's attack as an act of war by Lebanon and promised a "severe response", with the government giving the green light to military action against Hezbollah after an emergency cabinet meeting.

'Appropriate severity'

"It is an act of war by the state of Lebanon," said Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, and the cabinet promised a response with "appropriate severity".

At least two Lebanese civilians were killed in an Israeli air raid on a coastal bridge at Qasmiyeh, while bombs hit nine other bridges - including one 16km south of the Lebanese capital, Beirut.

Several suspected Hezbollah posts in south Lebanon came under Israeli air and land bombardment, while Hezbollah said it had bombed an army post in northern Israel shortly after midnight, causing several casualties.

Amir Peretz, the Israeli defence minister, told his commanders to prepare civil defence plans in case Hezbollah fired long-range rockets at Israeli cities and industrial installations.

Prisoner swap wanted

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, said the soldiers had been seized to force Israel to release prisoners.

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http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/A67F0AD3-7964-41BC-98A9-CA752CA5B89F.htm
by BBC (reposted)
Wednesday Jul 12th, 2006 9:43 PM
Israeli aircraft have fired rockets at the runways of Beirut's international airport in Lebanon, forcing its closure and the diversion of flights.

It follows the capture of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah militants.

Meanwhile, at least 19 civilians have been killed in fresh Israeli air raids in southern Lebanon.

Israeli jets have pounded targets in southern Lebanon in retaliation for the soldiers' capture. Israel has said it holds Lebanon responsible.

The Beirut airport is Lebanon's only international airport.

It is located in the Lebanese capital's Hezbollah-controlled southern suburbs.

Shortly after Israeli shells began falling on the runways, a senior airport official announced the facility was closed and asked scheduled flights to divert to Cyprus.

Bridges destroyed

Israeli PM Ehud Olmert said the soldiers' capture was an "act of war", but Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah insisted the two would only be returned via talks.

Mr Olmert said he held Beirut responsible, but Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora denied any knowledge of the Hezbollah operation and refused to take responsibility for the soldiers' capture.

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/5175160.stm
by Haaretz (reposted)
Wednesday Jul 12th, 2006 9:43 PM
In a sharp departure from Israel's response to previous Hezbollah attacks, the late-night cabinet session in Tel Aviv unanimously agreed that the Lebanese government should be held responsible for Wednesday's events. In the past, Israel has generally pointed its finger at Hezbollah's patrons, Syria and Iran.

"Israel holds the sovereign government of Lebanon as responsible for the action which emanated from its territory and for the safe return of the abducted soldiers," the government said in a statement issued after the meeting. "Israel must act with appropriate severity in response to this attack and it will do so. Israel will respond in a forthright and severe manner against the perpetrators responsible and will act to prevent future efforts and actions directed against Israel."

Following the meeting, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert convened a further session to discuss Israel's response, summoning Defense Minister Amir Peretz, Vice Premier Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai, and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz. The group as comprised is authorized to make operational decisions.

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http://haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=737687&contrassID=1&subContrassID=0&sbSubContrassID=0
by Haaretz (reposted)
Wednesday Jul 12th, 2006 9:44 PM
The Israel Defense Forces began preparing Wednesday night for a widespread aerial assault on Lebanon, after the cabinet approved a "severe" response to Hezbollah's attack on the northern border on Wednesday, which ended with eight soldiers dead and two kidnapped.

Although nothing is definitely known about the soldiers' condition, they are believed to be alive, since little of their blood was found at the scene of the attack.

The response will include a series of aerial attacks against Hezbollah, and particularly against the batteries of rockets aimed at Israel that the organization has stationed along the northern border. This operation is expected to last for several days. The IDF also recommended various operations aimed at the Lebanese government and strategic targets in Lebanon.

In a sharp departure from Israel's response to previous Hezbollah attacks, the late-night cabinet session unanimously agreed that the Lebanese government should be held responsible for Wednesday's events. In the past, Israel has generally pointed its finger at Hezbollah's patrons, Syria and Iran.

"Israel holds the sovereign government of Lebanon as responsible for the action which emanated from its territory and for the safe return of the abducted soldiers," the government said in a statement issued after the meeting.

"Israel must act with appropriate severity in response to this attack and it will do so. Israel will respond in a forthright and severe manner against the perpetrators responsible and will act to prevent future efforts and actions directed against Israel."

Ministers declined to give details of the measures approved last night, saying that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had asked them to stay mum. However, the IDF's recommendations including attacks on Lebanon's power grid, which Israel struck once before, in 1999. The army also recommended imposing a partial or complete naval and aerial blockade on Lebanon - for instance, preventing civilian aircraft from landing in Beirut.


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http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/737860.html
by cnn (reposted)
Thursday Jul 13th, 2006 7:18 AM
BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- Rockets fired from Lebanon hit a number of towns and villages in northern Israel on Thursday, hours after Israeli aircraft bombed Beirut International Airport.

The escalation in violence came as Israel expanded its military campaign against Hezbollah guerrillas who kidnapped two Israeli soldiers on Wednesday -- bombing the airport and blocking naval traffic in Lebanese waters.

Israel has said it holds the Lebanese government, of which radical Islamic group Hezbollah is a part, responsible for the soldiers' abduction.

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http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/07/13/mideast/