Israel suffers highest 1-day toll of war


Richard Moore

    ...Hezbollah grudgingly joined Lebanon's government in
    accepting the U.N. resolution but vowed to keep fighting
    until Israeli troops leave and hand over territory to a
    muscular U.N. peacekeeping force...

This is a cease fire?


Original source URL:

Israel suffers highest 1-day toll of war
By LAUREN FRAYER and SAM F. GHATTAS, Associated Press Writers
Sun Aug 13, 12:05 AM ET

More Israeli troops surged into southern Lebanon on Saturday, reaching the 
Litani River and engaging in some of the heaviest combat of the monthlong war 
just hours after the U.N. Security Council adopted a cease-fire plan. Israel 
lost 19 soldiers ‹ its highest one-day toll.

The leader of the Islamic militant group Hezbollah grudgingly joined Lebanon's 
government in accepting the U.N. resolution but vowed to keep fighting until 
Israeli troops leave and hand over territory to a muscular U.N. peacekeeping 
force intended to separate the antagonists.

Israel also signaled its intention to approve the plan, at a Cabinet meeting 
Sunday, and a senior official predicted fighting would stop Monday morning, but 
there was no slowing in the bloodshed.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced that a cease-fire would take effect 
at 8 a.m. Beirut time Monday (1 a.m. EDT), saying both Israeli and Lebanese 
leaders agreed to the start time. In his statement issued in New York, Annan 
called for an immediate halt to the fighting.

Israel was determined to batter Hezbollah until the end, while the guerrillas 
seemed to be fighting as fiercely as ever after a month of intense Israeli air, 
artillery and ground assaults.

Israel's military said 19 soldiers killed, five more were missing and more than 
70 were wounded after first day of the expanded offensive. The broadened push 
tripled troop strength to 30,000 in southern Lebanon. Israel Radio reported 100 
troops wounded, which if confirmed would be the Jewish state's highest one-day 
injury toll of the fighting.

Israel confirmed that guerrillas shot down a military transport helicopter in 
the south and the five people aboard, all crew members, were missing. Hezbollah 
said a battle raged for hours as Israel attempted to reach the crew, but there 
were no details of that fighting. Hezbollah claimed to destroy 21 tanks.

Israel said it killed more than 40 Hezbollah fighters. Hezbollah issued a 
statement saying three of its fighters had been killed but gave no date.

Nineteen Lebanese civilians died from Israeli airstrikes, while Hezbollah 
rockets wounded eight people in northern Israel. The 32-day struggle has claimed
nearly 900 lives ‹ including at least 763 in Lebanon and 130 in Israel.

The big expansion of Israel troop strength prompted Hezbollah's leader, Sheik 
Hassan Nasrallah, to declare the fight far from finished and likely to get 

"We must not make a mistake, not in the resistance, the government or the 
people, and believe that the war has ended. The war has not ended," he said.

"Today nothing has changed and it appears tomorrow nothing will change," 
Nasrallah added in his trademark measured tones.

Speaking a few hours before Lebanon's Cabinet voted unanimously to accept the 
U.N. plan, Nasrallah said Hezbollah would abide by the cease-fire resolution but
continue fighting as long as Israeli troops remained in Lebanon, calling it "our
natural right."

Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said his Cabinet endorsed the cease-fire 
plan despite having reservations. "We will deal with the requirements of the 
resolution with realism in a way that serves the national interest," he said.

The Cabinet harshly condemned Israel's military push Saturday, saying it 
presented a "flagrant challenge" to the international community after the U.N. 
resolution was issued.

A senior Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was 
not authorized to discuss sensitive issues publicly, said Israel wanted to seize
control of the south so more Hezbollah fighters do not enter the zone before it 
is handed over to the Lebanese army and U.N. troops.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz said Israeli troops would remain until the 
international force arrived, and would defend themselves if attacked.

"If anyone dares to use force against Israeli defense forces, we will see this 
as a violation of the cease-fire agreement," he said on Israel television.

Israel's army chief, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, said ground forces had tripled in size
in a bid to chase Hezbollah fighters and rocket crews north of the Litani, 18 
miles north of the border. He did not give a specific figure, but a threefold 
increase would mean Israel had 30,000 soldiers inside Lebanon.

Lebanese security officials said Israel troops reached the Litani by helicopter 
at a point about six miles west of the northern tip of the Israeli panhandle 
that juts northward alongside southeastern Lebanon. The officials said the 
troops were near the village of Aalmane, which sits on high ground on the south 
side of the river.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not 
authorized to speak to reporters, said the commandos cleared the area ahead of 
the arrival of a column of Israeli armored vehicles.

The Israelis used more than 50 helicopters to ferry hundreds of commandos into 
Hezbollah territory in the largest such operation in the Middle East since the 
October 1973 war.

The Lebanese army said early Sunday that one of its soldiers was killed 
overnight in an air raid near an army base in the southwestern area of the Bekaa

Lebanese officials said Israeli warplanes staged three air raids around the town
of Baalbek in the northern part of the Bekaa late Saturday and Israeli jets 
fired missiles at the northern entrance to the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein 
el-Hilweh in Sidon, south Lebanon. There was no immediate word on casualties.

Before dawn Sunday, Israeli warplanes struck sites near the Syrian border ‹ a 
bridge near the town of Halba and an unidentified target around Ali Nahri in the
eastern Bekaa Valley, Lebanese media reported. There was no word on casualties. 
Israel has said its warplanes have been attacking guerrilla targets and roads in
an effort to choke off Hezbollah's supply lines.

President Bush had an eight-minute phone call Saturday with Saniora to discuss 
the U.N. resolution and efforts to end hostilities. The White House issued a 
statement declaring the administration was determined to vanquish the hold of 
Hezbollah ‹ and that of its Syrian and Iranian benefactors ‹ on the south.

"These steps are designed to stop Hezbollah from acting as a state within a 
state, and put an end to Iran and Syria's efforts to hold the Lebanese people 
hostage to their own extremist agenda," Bush said. "This in turn will help to 
restore the sovereignty of Lebanon's democratic government and help ensure 
security for the people of Lebanon and Israel."

Saniora, an anti-Syria politician whose government was extremely weak when the 
fighting began, appears to have emerged from the crisis considerably 
strengthened. He refused to give in to initial cease-fire proposals from the 
United States and France that would have left Israeli troops in place until an 
international force was installed.

He also prevailed in his insistence that policing of the cease-fire be done by 
Lebanese soldiers supported by a U.N. force rather than by an ad hoc assembly of
international troops, possibly from NATO.

The cease-fire, unanimously adopted by the U.N. Security Council on Friday 
night, calls for a contingent of as many as 30,000 soldiers ‹ half U.N., half 
Lebanese ‹ to enforce the truce.

French President Jacques Chirac said his nation was ready to contribute troops. 
Italy and the predominantly Muslim nations of Turkey and Malaysia also have 
offered soldiers.

Israeli police said 64 rockets fell on northern Israel, wounding eight people. 
That compared with an average 200 missiles daily for the last two weeks.

At least 19 Lebanese civilians were killed in Israeli air raids Saturday. In the
deadliest strike, Israeli missiles killed at least 15 civilians in the southern 
village of Rachaf, Lebanese security officials said.

Israeli warplanes also knocked out a highway in northern Lebanon leading to the 
Arida border crossing with Syria, the last official border post open for aid 
convoys and civilians fleeing the country. The only routes left were rugged 
footpaths and back roads through deserts or over mountains.

Aid convoys were stuck in ports or at warehouses because Israel refused to 
guarantee their safety on the roads. Thousands of people trapped in southern 
villages were believed to have run out of food and medicine and were drinking 
unsafe water.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press.
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