Bombs and shells rained on southern Lebanon amid reports that Israel favoured heavier air strikes against Hizbollah guerrillas rather than a major ground offensive. Washington has given Israel the green light to pursue its assault on Lebanon by refusing to call for an immediate ceasefire or allowing the UN Security Council to do so.
Aid agencies are warning of a humanitarian crisis in Lebanon’s border region. At the key town of Bint Jbeil, some 700, including three hundred children, were said to be sheltering in a mosque. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other Israeli minister met to discuss the possibility of stepping up airstrikes on Lebanon.
But media reported divisions among ministers over the handling of the offensive. Nine soldiers died on Wednesday in the heaviest single day’s toll since the offensive began 16 days ago.The army is said to be wary of getting bogged down in guerrilla battles in the area. Israeli public opinion is acutely sensitive to losses, and commentators believe that more of the same could turn the public against the military offensive.