Israeli jets struck Beirut overnight, part of an increasingly bloody 10-day-old offensive. Elite Israeli troops have been launching small-scale raids in Lebanon to try to stop Hizbollah firing rockets into Israel. The rocket attacks and fighting have killed at least 29 Israeli troops and civilians. Israel’s reprisal attacks have killed over 300 Lebanese civilians. Lebanese Defence Minister Elyas Al-Murr has for the first time said the army is ready to confront any ground attacks by Israel.
His Israeli counterpart Amir Peretz yesterday raised the possibility of a bigger ground offensive. On Thursday journalists were shown round part of southern Beirut where Hizbollah had its offices. Successive Israeli airstrikes have flattened the offices and residential buildings in the area. One local man said: “They have occupied our land and every day planes fly above and around us. Is this not our land?”
The Hizbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has warned against an Israeli ground offensive, saying Hizbollah’s rockets could still reach Israel even if its fighters were pushed back from the border. His whereabouts are unknown, but he told al-Jazeera television that Israeli claims to have killed Hizbollah leaders and large numbers of “resistance members” were nonsense.