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IAF warplanes bomb two Lebanese military bases
Israel Air Force warplanes blasted runways at the main Lebanese army air base in eastern Lebanon near Syria's border Thursday evening, Lebanese police said.
Jets dropped two bombs on the runway at the Rayak air base in the eastern Bekaa Valley, damaging it, police said. There were no reports of casualties. Rayak, 50 kilometers east of Beirut and about seven kilometers west of the Syrian border, is home to the country's main military air base and is military headquarters in eastern Lebanon.
Shortly afterward, the IAF also bombed the small military airport of Qulayaat in northern Lebanon, security sources and witnesses said.
It was the third airport to be hit by Israel on Thursday, cutting off all of Lebanon's civilian and military air access.
These were the first IAF strikes on the Lebanese army in Israel's fight with Hezbollah guerrillas.
Israel threatens to hit Beirut neighborhood
Israel threatened Thursday to strike at Hezbollah offices in a residential area of Beirut in response to scores of Katyusha attacks on population centers inside Israel. An Israeli woman was killed and dozens were wounded across Israel's north in the Hezbollah shellings.
At least 52 Lebanese have been killed in IAF retaliatory air strikes.
IAF jets Thursday morning carried out flybys over the area of Beirut, which is home to senior members of Hezbollah, as well as some of its supporters.
In response, Hezbollah said that it would target the major northern port city of Haifa.
The Israel Defense Forces confirmed that several rockets landed some 15 kilometers south of the border with Lebanon on Thursday morning, signaling that Hezbollah is becoming increasingly successful in expanding the reach of the crude projectiles. This is the furthest that Hezbollah rockets have managed to penetrate inside Israel.
A senior Israel Defense Forces officer said Thursday that Hezbollah has missiles that could reach the cities of Haifa and Tiberias.
Brigadier General Yossi Baidatz, the commander of the research arm of military intelligence, told a parliamentary committee Thursday that Hezbollah had about 100 missiles with a range of between 40 kilometers (25 miles) and 70 kilometers (44 miles), a participant in the meeting said. That would put the cities of Haifa and Tiberias within range.
Hezbollah also has thousands of Katyusha rockets that have a range of about 20 kilometers (12 miles), Baidatz said, according to the participant, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was closed.
The government is working on the assumption that Hezbollah will use rockets with a longer range than they have previously had to strike civilians areas in Israel. Should that happen, the IDF will then consider sending ground troops into Lebanon.