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Israeli troops enter Lebanon


For a Free Scotland
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- The Israeli Cabinet authorized "severe and harsh" retaliation on Lebanon after Hezbollah guerillas kidnapped two soldiers and killed three others in a cross-border raid Wednesday.

Israel quickly blamed the Lebanese government for the raid -- and charged it with the soldiers' safe release -- and the Israel Defense Forces began hammering Lebanon with artillery and airstrikes hours before the Cabinet met to discuss a response.

It is the second time in three weeks that an Israeli soldier has been abducted. Concerns abound that the situation on Israel's northern border will escalate to the level it has reached in Gaza, where the IDF launched an ongoing offensive June 28 after the abduction of Army Cpl. Gilad Shalit three days prior. (Watch as people in Lebanon flee the violence -- 2:42)

At least 19 Palestinians were reported dead in Gaza in Wednesday's fighting, according to Palestinian sources. (Full story)

'Act of war'

Israel called Wednesday's abductions an act of war, and Maj. Gen. Udi Adam, head of Israel's Northern Command, said he has "comprehensive plans" to battle Hezbollah throughout Lebanon, not just in its southern stronghold.

"This affair is between Israel and the state of Lebanon," Adam said. "Where to attack? Once it is inside Lebanon, everything is legitimate -- not just southern Lebanon, not just the line of Hezbollah posts." (Watch as Israeli forces enter Lebanon -- 2:29)

Earlier, Israel's chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, told Israel's Channel 10, "If the soldiers are not returned, we will turn Lebanon's clock back 20 years."

Five more Israeli soldiers died in fighting following the raid. Four died in an attack on their tank, and another died as soldiers tried to help them, the IDF reported.

Four Israel civilians and six soldiers have been wounded so far in the fighting, which has included more than 100 airstrikes on what Israel says are Hezbollah bases, and road and bridges that could be used in transporting the kidnapped soldiers.

Talks or bust

Shortly after Hezbollah fighters attacked an IDF military vehicle between Zar'it and Shtula and kidnapped the soldiers, the Islamic militia's leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, called the abductions as "our natural, only and logical right."

He further said that the soldiers had been taken "far, far away" and that no Israeli military campaign would secure their release. Hezbollah has demanded "direct negotiations" regarding a prisoner exchange with Israel.

"We want our prisoners released," Nasrallah said.

But Israel has rebuffed that demand, saying -- as it has to the Palestinians -- that a prisoner exchange would encourage more kidnappings. Government spokesman Gideon Meir said Israel wanted the soldiers returned "immediately without any precondition -- no negotiation."

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, like his general, pointed the finger at Lebanon, not just Hezbollah.

The raid was "not a terror attack, but an operation of a sovereign state without any reason or provocation," he said. "The Lebanese government, which Hezbollah is part of, is trying to undermine the stability of the region, and the Lebanese government will be responsible for the consequences."

Hezbollah, which enjoys substantial backing from Syria and Iran, is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel. The group holds posts in Lebanon's government.

Ambassador pulled

Lebanon has tried to distance itself from the raid that sparked the most recent hostilities, recalling its ambassador to the United States, Farid Abboud, for making "irresponsible" public comments, said Lebanese Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh.

Hamadeh would not divulge the comments. But Abboud appeared to endorse Hezbollah's call for a prisoner swap during an interview Wednesday with CNN International.

"We have our prisoners. They have prisoners. An exchange would be appropriate, and I think it will resolve the problem," Abboud said.

Israel, which pulled its troops out of southern Lebanon in 2000 after 22 years of occupation, has exchanged prisoners with Hezbollah before, most recently in 2004 when Israel exchanged more than 400 Palestinian, Lebanese and Arab prisoners for an Israeli businessman and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers.

An international plea

The United States and the United Nations urged Hezbollah to release the soldiers, and the White House called the raid "an affront to the sovereignty of the Lebanese government." Washington also called on Syria and Iran to cut off their support to the group.

"Hezbollah's actions are not in the interest of the Lebanese people, whose welfare should not be held hostage to the interests of the Syrian and Iranian regimes," the White House said in a statement.

Syria and Iran are the scapegoats because of their support for Hezbollah and because the Lebanese government does not have the capacity to expand its authority into the south, where Hezbollah maintains control, U.S. State Department officials said.

As U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on regional leaders to exercise restraint to prevent the conflict from spreading, a former U.S. ambassador warned that the fighting "could easily widen further."

"We may see reoccupation of southern Lebanon, which would be unfortunate," said Edward Walker, who oversaw U.S. missions in Israel, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke three times Wednesday with Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Sinora, who came to power in the 2005 Cedar Revolution that ousted a pro-Syrian government.

Sinora is seen as friendly to the United States. The Bush administration has urged him to disarm Hezbollah through a process of national reconciliation.

Rice asked Sinora to exercise what influence his government has to secure the freedom of the soldiers captured on Wednesday. She also spoke with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni twice, and with Olmert and Annan.

Meanwhile, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit was in the Syrian capital, where he was urging Damascus to exercise its influence over Hezbollah.


Do you think that Israel should be able to enter adjacent countries to take out rebel organizations? Does Lebanon (and to an extent, Syria) have a responsibility to control the rebels in their countries?


Countries should control and eradicate terrorist orginizations within their own borders. If they fail to do so, and because of this (as opposed to if they were trying to do so and somehow failed) another country is attacked by them, I think it is perfectlly within the rights of that other country to step in and get the job done themselves.

However, as to this situation, I can offer only one word: "fuck"


For a Free Scotland
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Two rockets struck the northern Israeli port of Haifa Thursday as the crisis over the abduction of two Israeli soldiers deepened.

The missiles were fired from inside Lebanon, the Israel Defense Forces said, in a sharp escalation of attacks launched by Hezbollah guerrillas.

The attack on the city of 280,000 was the first time Hezbollah rockets have hit so deeply into Israeli territory.

Ambulance services said no one was hurt in the attack, which had been threatened by Hezbollah.

The firing came hours after Israeli warplanes bombed Beirut's international airport and its navy began a blockade of Lebanon's ports.

Hundreds of targets from the border north to the capital were attacked, the Israel Defense Forces said.

Hezbollah guerrillas earlier fired scores of rockets from Lebanon into northern Israel in the most intense bombardment in years.

Some 45 people and two soldiers have been killed inside Lebanon since Wednesday, the country's health ministry said, while the rocket attacks killed at least one woman in Israel.

Lebanon also said 103 people were hurt by the Israeli attacks, The Associated Press reported, while the IDF said 90 people had been injured by the rockets hitting Israel.

One rocket attack on the northern Israeli town of Nahariya on Thursday hit a group of journalists, the AP said.

Both Israel and Lebanon have said the violence amounts to "acts of war."

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Wednesday's attacks by Hezbollah when guerrillas killed eight Israeli soldiers and captured two more were an "act of war."

Lebanese Interior Minister Ahmed Fatfat called Israel's retaliatory attack on Beirut airport a "general act of war," saying the strikes had nothing to do with Hezbollah but were instead an attack against the country's "economic interests," especially its tourism industry.

Beirut's Rafik Hariri International Airport was forced to close after Israeli fighter jets hit all three of its runways, leaving huge craters that made them unusable. All flights have been diverted. (Airport map)

Two other Lebanese airports were attacked Thursday morning, the IDF said.

The Israeli military gave no details, but Lebanese army sources said that the Rayak Air Base in the Bekaa Valley near the Syrian border had been hit as well as a small military airport in Qulayaat in northern Lebanon.

Israel said it targeted the international airport in the capital's suburbs because it was a transfer point for weapons and supplies to Hezbollah, the militant group that captured two Israeli soldiers and killed eight others in raids this week.

Israeli warships were stationed off all of Lebanon's ports to enforce the naval blockade, Reuters news agency reported.

Lebanese Information Minister Ghazi Aridi called for a comprehensive cease-fire, saying the Lebanese government had nothing to do with the Hezbollah attacks.

After Israel's airport strike, planes began dropping leaflets warning residents of an impending attack on an area of southern Beirut where Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is believed to live.


It appears that Lebanon's inability to wipe out rebel groups has put themselves and Israel in something that's a pin drop from full-on war. Even if Israel only attacks Hezbollah, Lebanon will be collateral damage.

Anonym0uz Bitch

Personally I would not go against Israel ever, as a Chrisitian I believe that Israel is God's country, and those who go against them tend to always fail. Israel is also rather strong for such a tiny nation.


For a Free Scotland
The IDF is a modernized, US-trained military force that was able to defeat large countries (such as Egypt) multiple times. Also Lebanon is weakened by the years of Syrian occupation.


Why don't people just get the idea... Attacking Israel is a bad idea. They WILL retaliate, they WILL win, and they WILL end up killing people who had no responsibility originally by accident. By attacking them, you're just making the situation worse for yourself.


For a Free Scotland
They just bombed the Damascus-Beirut highway, so Syria might get into the fray.

Sure, Israel will win, but how many people will die in the process?


Generally speaking, Israel doesn't attack people unless other people attack them first... you think people would understand this, and just not attack them. They have one of the most powerful armies in the world, and they've shown that they have no problem with a trampling over other things on the way to their goal.


For a Free Scotland
Well, they've started bombing suspected Hezbollah offices in southern Beirut. I'd be worried about this, as they are physically bombing a foreign country. Other countries might seize this opportunity to mount another attack on Israel.

Anonym0uz Bitch

Yeah I know, then everyone gets pissed as Israel for defending themselves, well the other people int he Middle East do.