Just remember how easy a WW can break out. Powder keg?
Israel attacks Beirut airport after rockets hit Haifa
Thursday, July 13, 2006; Posted: 3:11 p.m. EDT (19:11 GMT)
Fuel tanks at Beirut's international airport explode during a second strike against the facility on Thursday.
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli forces struck Beirut's international airport for the second time Thursday, hitting fuel tanks that exploded into fireballs.
The attack came soon after two rockets struck the northern Israeli port of Haifa on a day of spiraling violence and deepening crisis.
Israel Defense Forces said the Haifa rockets came from Lebanon and blamed the strike on Hezbollah, whose guerrillas triggered the violence when they attacked inside Israel on Wednesday, killing eight Israeli soldiers and capturing two more. (Watch as fighting along the border intensifies -- 1:45)
Daniel Ayalon, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, said the Haifa attack was "a major, major escalation."
Hezbollah earlier had threatened to hit Haifa, but Lebanese TV reported that the militant group denied launching the attack on the city of 280,000.
Ambulance services said no one was hurt in the attack, which -- if confirmed -- would be the first time Hezbollah rockets have hit so deeply into Israeli territory.
Earlier Thursday Israel's warplanes bombed Beirut's international airport for the first time and its navy began a blockade of Lebanon's ports.
Hundreds of targets from the border north to the capital were attacked, the IDF said.
Hezbollah guerrillas 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 in the wake of the initial violence that saw the Israeli soldiers killed and captured.
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 Thursday on the northern Israeli town of Nahariya 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 called the attacks and abductions an "act of war" and blamed the Lebanese government, which he said would be held responsible for the two soldiers' safe release.
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 because it was a transfer point for weapons and supplies to Hezbollah.
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. (Watch initial reports on the runway bombings -- 6:00)
Israel: 'We mean business'
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he fears a "regional war is mounting" with Israel's military campaigns in Lebanon and Gaza, where forces were deployed after last month's capture of an Israeli soldier.
"This is not our interest and will not bring peace and stability to the region," Abbas said, referring to "this [Israeli] aggression."
President Bush said all countries had a right to defend themselves but warned Israel to take care not to "weaken" Lebanon's government. (Full story)
Bush also stressed during a visit to Germany that Syria "needs to be held to account."
Hezbollah enjoys substantial backing from Syria and Iran and is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel. The group holds posts in Lebanon's government.
Israeli Security Cabinet Minister Isaac Herzog said: "We are taking strong measures so that it will be clear to the Lebanese people and government ... that we mean business."
The United Nations will send a team to the Middle East to urge both sides to use restraint, a spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Thursday. (Full story)
The Security Council will hold an "urgent meeting" Friday at the request of Lebanon to address escalating the tensions, France's U.N. ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said Thursday.
Israeli airstrikes were aimed at targets used by Hezbollah for storing weapons, the IDF said.
Warplanes also hit al-Manar television station because Hezbollah uses it to incite and recruit activists, the IDF said. A broadcast tower was destroyed and three people injured, but the station was able to continue broadcasting, al-Manar editor Ibrahim Moussawi said.
Israel's Cabinet authorized a "severe and harsh" response to the abduction of two soldiers, named Thursday as Ehud Goldvasser, 31, from Nahariya, and Eldad Regev, 26, from the Haifa suburb of Kiryat Motzkin.
Hezbollah called for a prisoner exchange but, as in Gaza, Israel has rejected the call.
Hezbollah chief Nasrallah told reporters that seizing the soldiers was "our natural, only and logical right" to win freedom for Hezbollah prisoners held by Israel.
Nasrallah said the two soldiers had been taken to a place "far, far away" and that an Israeli military campaign would not win their release.
More than 70 Katyusha rockets have hit Israel in the past 24 hours, the IDF said.
Missiles critically injured one person and hurt at least 10 others in Safed, about 13 miles (20 kilometers) from the Lebanese border, which local officials said not been hit by Hezbollah rockets since 1972.
Also in northern Israel, a woman was killed and 15 people hurt in a rocket attack in Nahariya, and at least 38 people were injured when rockets hit the Arab village of Carmiel, Israeli ambulance services said.
CNN's Barbara Starr and John Vause and journalist Anthony Mills in Beirut contributed to this report.
Copyright 2006 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.
Last edited by Twisted Sister on Thu Jul 13, 2006 3:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.