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Israelis missing after naval raid
by BBC (reposted)
Friday Jul 14th, 2006 9:33 PM
Israel's military says four servicemen are missing after one of its vessels off the Lebanese coast was struck by a missile fired by Hezbollah militants.
The ship caught fire after it was hit by either a rocket or explosives-laden drone, the military said.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah had earlier promised "open war" on Israel in an address broadcast after his Beirut offices were bombed.

Israel has struck inside Lebanon after Hezbollah captured two Israeli troops.

More than 60 Lebanese have been killed in the offensive.

Hezbollah has not yet confirmed it attacked the warship but in his address Sheikh Nasrallah said: "Look at the warship that has attacked Beirut, while it burns and sinks before your very eyes."

The Israeli military said a civilian vessel was also hit by rockets during the attack but could not confirm its nationality or if there were casualties.

The Israeli vessel has been towed back to the port of Haifa.

An Israeli spokeswoman said: "During a navy operation off the Lebanese coast a missile ship was hit and we have four crew members missing.

"At the moment there are all kinds of operations under way to find them."

The naval incident took place after Israel had launched a number of attacks on Beirut and on Lebanese infrastructure in and outside the capital.

The road to Damascus was hit and Beirut's airport was again targeted on Friday.

Targets in southern Beirut around Hezbollah's headquarters were bombed.

Sheikh Nasrallah was not hurt in the attacks and later said in his broadcast: "You wanted an open war and we are ready for an open war."

He said Haifa would come under attack, "and believe me, even beyond Haifa".

"Our homes will not be the only ones to be destroyed, our children will not be the only ones to die," he said.

Syrian pledge

Hezbollah has continued rocket attacks on northern Israel - 70 were fired on Friday alone.

by Haaretz (reposted)
Friday Jul 14th, 2006 9:34 PM
Four Israel Navy sailors were reported missing after an explosives-laden drone, apparently launched by Hezbollah, hit a naval vessel off the coast of Beirut Friday night.

The blast caused a fire on board the ship, which had been stationed 16 kilometers off of the coast of Lebanon. After the fire was extinguished, it became clear that four soldiers were missing. Their families were notified soon thereafter.

Israel Defense Forces teams, with the help of planes, helicopters and additional vessels, were searching for the missing troops at the site of the blast. The ship was towed back to Israel.

The incident occurred at around 8:30 P.M., causing a fire close to the helicopter landing pad onboard. The ship's steering mechanism also sustained some damage.

Several hours after the vessel was hit, an Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman said the damage was worse than originally thought. There were some 80 soldiers on board the ship when it was hit.

An army spokeswoman said later that Hezbollah continued to target Israeli vessels with a barrage of rockets after the hit, but missed and struck a civilian ship.

Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said earlier Friday that the militant organization had sunk an Israel Navy ship off the Lebanese coast.

"Now in the middle of the sea, facing Beirut, the Israeli warship that has attacked the infrastructure, people's homes and civilians - look at it burning," Nasrallah said in remarks broadcast live shortly after an Israel Air Force strike on Hezbollah's Beirut headquarters.

Hezbollah has never before used a remote-controlled unmanned aircraft to attack Israel. But in a signal of its growing capabilities, the guerrilla group has twice managed to fly spy drones over northern Israel in recent years. The drones caused great concern in Israel because they evaded the country's air defenses.

Earlier, Nasrallah vowed to strike Israeli targets south of Haifa, after the attack left the group's headquarters in Beirut in ruins.

Hezbollah was quick to announce that Nasrallah had been unhurt in the strike.

"Hezbollah's secretary-general, family and bodyguards are safe and sound," a Hezbollah statement said. Nasrallah's residence and office were destroyed in the attack.

It gave no word on casualties in the latest of several raids on Hezbollah's stronghold of Haret Hreik.