The Israeli military has suffered its worst day in the Lebanon campaign so far, with at least nine soldiers killed in fierce fighting. Arabic media reported that over a dozen Israelis may have died on Wednesday in clashes with Hizbollah fighters near the border. The conflict was triggered when the guerrilla group captured two Israeli troops on July 12. A fellow soldier who escaped that ambush in which eight of his comrades were killed has been speaking in hospital – recalling that until then it had been a quiet day in which everything was normal.
“They shot at us from all sides,” said Tommer Weinberg, 22. Observers believe Hizbollah has been putting up heavier resistance than Israel had expected. Relatives of the kidnapped soldiers are in Paris, appealing to France to use its historic contacts with Lebanon to try to secure the pair’s release.
And it has been reported that the father of Corporal Gilad Shalit, seized separately by Palestinian militants, may also be holding talks with the French.
Omri Avni is the father-in-law of one of the Hizbollah captives, Ehud Goldwasser. “We need to know if they are okay, if they are healthy and if anyone can help us to bring them back home,” he said. “The army cannot do it.” Hizbollah has also targeted civilians with relentless rocket attacks that continued on Wednesday. In total, 51 Israelis have died since the conflict began.