Israel now announcing war crimes in advance; the "army of steel" plans attacks on more "strategic" infrastructure in Lebanon
"It could be that at the end of the story, Lebanon will be dark for a few years"
(7 August 2006) - A senior General Staff officer told Haaretz that for the first time since the fighting began, Israel plans to attack strategic infrastructure targets and symbols of the Lebanese government.
Other than bombing the Beirut airport to prevent arms transfers to Hezbollah, Israel has hitherto not targeted Lebanon's infrastructure, insisting that it is only at war with Hezbollah, not with the Lebanese government or people.
However, the officer said, "we are now in a process of renewed escalation. We will continue hitting everything that moves in Hezbollah - but we will also hit strategic civilian infrastructure."
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz will meet with senior defense officials this morning to discuss the continuation of the operation.
Altogether, Hezbollah fired more than 170 rockets at Israel on Sunday, including a barrage of at least 22 rockets on Haifa at about 8 P.M. that killed three people and wounded about 40.
The 12 reservists were killed, and another 12 wounded, by a single rocket - one of about 35 fired at the Galilee panhandle Sunday - that hit their muster point at around noon.
Altogether, the Magen David Adom ambulance service said that it treated 138 wounded people on Sunday, including five with serious injuries and six with moderate wounds.
The General Staff believes that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has recently stepped up his attacks because he expects the international community to impose a cease-fire soon. "He thinks that we're nearing the end, and therefore, he's taking risks, such as activating long-range rocket launchers, even though he knows that the air force will destroy almost every such launcher immediately after the launch," explained one officer.
IAF strikes Hezbollah region
Also early Monday, Israeli warplanes targeted a northeastern Lebanese region that is a symbol of Hezbollah power, witnesses and the group said. At least four explosions were heard around the Bekaa city of Baalbek, 100 kilometers north of Israel's border, witnesses said. There was no immediate word on casualties.
Warplanes struck roads about 20 kilometers (13 miles) south of Baalbek, and in the Rashaya region farther south on the corridor linking southern regions with the Bekaa in the country's east, the witnesses said.
Hezbollah has many bases in the Baalbek region. Israeli commandos on Wednesday landed troops in the Baalbek area and fought guerrillas, kidnapped several people before withdrawing. Sixteen Lebanese were killed in that raid.
Aluf Benn, Eli Ashkenazi, Jack Khoury, Zafrir Rinat and Ran Reznick contributed to this report.
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