BREAKING NEWS: Olmert sends message to Lebanon via PM Prodi offering a truce: on condition of the return of two IDF soldiers and withdrawal of Hezbollah militia south of the Litani river, 30 km from Israeli border.


Hezbollah Rockets Hit Haifa – Killing 8

HAIFA, Israel (AP) 20 minutes ago — Lebanese guerillas fired a relentless barrage of rockets into the northern Israeli city of Haifa, killing eight people at a train station and wounding seven others in a dramatic escalation of a five-day-old conflict that has shattered Mideast peace.

A destroyed bridge after it was struck by an Israeli warplane missile on the outskirts of the southern Lebanon city of Tyre. Israel has bombarded Lebanon's airport and main roads in the most intensive offensive against the country in 24 years, while Hezbollah has fired an almost nonstop barrage of rockets at northern Israeli towns and cities. AP Photo/Nasser Nasser

Soon after the Haifa attack, Israeli warplanes hit the south Beirut stronghold of Hezbollah with at least six airstrikes, shaking the Lebanese capital and sending a cloud of thick smoke rising over the neighborhood.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vowed that there would be “far-reaching consequences” for the rocket attack the worst since Israel pulled out of southern Lebanon in 2000 after an 18-year occupation. Smoke rose over Haifa and air raid sirens wailed as the dead and wounded were evacuated. Other rockets hit the city’s major oil refinery, gas storage tanks and a major street during the busy morning rush hour.

Israeli authorities warned all residents in the central city of Tel Aviv and north to be on heightened alert, reflecting the longer range of the missile attacks.

Israeli officials blamed Syria and Iran for providing the weaponry that hit Haifa raising the specter of a wider regional confrontation.

The airstrikes in Beirut reduced an entire apartment building to rubble and knocked out electricity in swaths of the capital. Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television station briefly went off the air

The Israeli air force dropped leaflets over south Lebanon telling residents to leave immediately before an imminent attack. “In two or three hours we are going to attack the south of Lebanon heavily,” said Maj. Gen. Udi Adam, the head of Israel’s northern command.

Blair Joins Bush in Blaming Iran, Syria Over Violence

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) July 16 — Eight people were killed and at least 20 injured today when Hezbollah rockets struck Haifa, Israel’s third-largest city, and its suburbs, the police and emergency services said. Most of the casualties occurred when one of the rockets hit a garage adjacent to the city’s main train station at about 9:20 a.m. local time.

That brought the number of Israeli casualties to 21 as the conflict in Lebanon moved into its fifth day. At least 110 Lebanese civilians have been killed as well as three soldiers and two Hezbollah fighters, according to Lebanese police.

It was the most serious Israeli military action in Lebanon since May 2000, when Israel pulled out of a swath of southern Lebanon it had held for 18 years.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in a shift to the country’s traditional even-handed approach to the subject, said three days ago that “Israel has the right to defend itself.”

Italy Discusses Hizbollah with Syria

ROME (Sana) July 15 — Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi talked with President Bashar al-Assad over the phone to discuss Israel’s attack on Lebanon and Syria’s ally Hizbollah, the state news agency SANA said.

It was the first such high-level contact between the Syrian leader and a Western official since last year’s assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, which worsened Damascus’s relations with Europe.

The European Union has expressed concern that the confrontation between Hizbollah and Israel could spread to Syria, a main backer of the Lebanese group.

Italy, along with the rest of the European Union, has scaled down contacts with Syria’s Baathist government following the killing of Hariri. The EU also froze talks on a major economic deal.

Olmert sends message to Lebanon via PM Prodi offering a truce: on condition of the return of two IDF soldiers and withdrawal of Hezbollah militia south of the Litani river, 30 km from Israeli border.

"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."

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