Israeli aggression: the NY Times spin


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

July 17, 2006
Israel Strikes Lebanon After Hezbollah Missile Attack

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Monday, July 17 ‹ The Lebanese militia Hezbollah unleashed its 
biggest and deadliest missile yet into Israel on Sunday, killing eight people in
the major port city of Haifa and prompting Israeli leaders to step up their 
military campaign to drive the group from southern Lebanon.

Within an hour, Israeli warplanes engaged in a fierce bombardment of targets in 
southern Beirut and southern Lebanon, killing 45 people and wounding more than 
100, according to local reports. Among the dead were eight Canadians, with 
another six critically injured, largely from an air attack on the border town of
Aitaroun, where they were vacationing, the Canadian government reported.

Early Monday, an Israeli rocket blew up a Lebanese army position near Tripoli in
northern Lebanon, killing eight soldiers, and a sea-launched missile killed at 
least nine people in the southern Lebanese port of Tyre, The Associated Press 

The rocket attacks on Haifa and elsewhere in northern Israel on Sunday prompted 
the police to order residents into shelters. The biggest rocket, which Israel 
said was Syrian-made, hit a busy railway maintenance building, destroying the 
roof, killing 8, wounding more than 20 and leaving congealing pools of blood on 
the platform.

The missile, which Israel said was a Syrian-produced model of a Iranian Fajr-3, 
has a range of about 30 miles and carries a warhead with some 100 pounds of high
explosive and shrapnel, a significant change from the smaller Katyushas that 
Hezbollah has mostly been using. Haifa is Israel¹s third most important city 
after Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. It is a bustling port of several hundred thousand 
with terraced hills, a large Israeli Arab population and two major research 

The impact of the deaths and the use of the new missile were a qualitative and 
psychological escalation of the conflict, in its fifth day on Sunday, with the 
Israeli defense minister, Amir Peretz, saying, ³For those who live in the 
Hezbollah neighborhood in Beirut and feel protected ‹ the situation has 

The Israeli air attacks on Beirut¹s southern suburbs, where Hezbollah has its 
headquarters, continued throughout the day and evening, after heavy raids on 
Saturday against Hezbollah offices and apartment houses and, the Israelis said, 
bunkers underneath them where Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah¹s leader, has 
spent much of his time.

Streets were deserted, littered by debris, broken glass and parts of shattered 
buildings. Heavy plumes of black smoke rose over the city in the late afternoon 
as Israeli jets circled over the shut Beirut airport, hitting fuel storage tanks
and an oil refinery.

³We are facing a real annihilation carried out by Israel,² Lebanon¹s information
minister, Ghazi Aridi, said after an emergency cabinet meeting. Beirut had an 
eerie, empty feel, with many residents having fled to the surrounding mountains.

The Lebanese government estimated the damages at more than $500 million, not 
including loss of tourism and commerce.

At an underground parking lot in Beirut, some 2,000 families, many of them from 
the south, were camped out Sunday night after abandoning their villages. Hani 
Mudaid, from Mashrafieh, said: ³I saw all the bad things of the war. It¹s very 
hard for me now to see my kids see them too.²

Sheik Nasrallah promised Israel ³new surprises² and said Hezbollah had ³no 
choice² but to hit Haifa. ³As long as the enemy acts without limitations or red 
lines, it¹s our right to continue the confrontation without limits,² he said in 
a taped speech televised on Hezbollah¹s Al Manar television. Sheik Nasrallah 
appeared from the waist up to be unhurt, despite unconfirmed reports that he had
been wounded in an Israeli strike on his bunker in southern Beirut.

In Iran, the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called Hezbollah ³a genuine
Islamic movement whose progress should become an example for the Muslim world.²

Israeli planes dropped leaflets over parts of southern Lebanon, urging civilians
to leave. Israeli Army officials say that Hezbollah stores rockets and portable 
launchers among the civilian population, in apartments, garages and shops.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel vowed that Israel would ³continue doing 
whatever is necessary to achieve our goals,² to drive Hezbollah from the border 
with Lebanon and to secure the release of captured Israeli soldiers. ³Nothing 
will deter us,² he said, ³whatever far-reaching ramifications there may be 
regarding our relations on the northern border and in the region.²

But Israel has no plans to attack Syria or Iran ³on our own initiative,² Mr. 
Olmert told the Israeli cabinet. Isaac Herzog, a cabinet member, said: ³We know 
their responsibility. But at this moment, we concentrate on Lebanon.²

Meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, the leaders of the Group of 8 countries 
blamed ³extremist forces² and ³those who support them² for the surge of Middle 
East violence. They urged Israel to exercise ³utmost restraint² and expressed 
their ³deepening concern for rising civilian casualties on all sides and the 
damage to infrastructure.²

The leaders did not call for an immediate cease-fire but urged Hezbollah to 
restore peace by releasing captured Israelis and ending attacks on Israel, 
followed by the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza and the release of 
detained Palestinian legislators belonging to Hamas.

The Israelis say that their operation, which follows a Hezbollah raid into 
Israel, is intended to ³dismantle the capabilities² of Hezbollah, ensure that it
no longer faces Israelis ³nose to nose² across the border and allow the 
government of Lebanon, with international help, to take control over its own 

The Israelis want the United Nations Security Council to implement its 
Resolution 1559 of September 2004, which calls for the Lebanese Army to control 
the border, for foreigners to return home, and for Hezbollah¹s extensive 
military operation to be dismantled.

The Israeli military says that dozens of Iranian Revolutionary Guards are in 
southern Lebanon as trainers and advisers to Hezbollah, which Iran helped set up
with Syrian help in 1982 to fight Israel in southern Lebanon. Iranians train 
special missile-launching units, but do not fire the missiles themselves, said a
senior Israeli military official, who asked that his name not be used because he
is not authorized to speak publicly.

Sheik Nasrallah denies that any Iranian soldiers are in southern Lebanon.

Hezbollah, according to the senior Israeli military official, has some 12,000 
120-millimeter Katyusha rockets, with a range of 6 to 15 miles and a warhead of 
some 40 pounds. So far, they have launched fewer than 900 of them.

Hezbollah also has ³a few hundred² Fajr-3 and Fajr-5 missiles ‹ the older 
Fajr-3, a 240- millimeter missile with a range of some 30 miles, and the Fajr-5,
a 333-millimeter missile with a range of about 40 to 45 miles, the official 
said. Both carry larger warheads, the first with a payload of almost 200 pounds 
(of which roughly half is high explosive), and the second, of 400 pounds.

Hezbollah also has a small number of missiles with a range longer than the 
Fajr-5, the official said, but he would not be more specific. Some analysts 
believe that Hezbollah has a few Iranian Zelzal missiles, with a range of 60 to 
80 miles, which could reach the outskirts of Tel Aviv.

Israel had deployed a battery of Patriot missiles near Haifa to try to protect 
the city. But the antimissile system is not designed for these missiles, it is 
designed to give a warning, the Israeli Army said. Rockets also hit Acre, 
Nahariya and other northern towns, and Israel declared a form of martial law, 
allowing the police and the army to order residents into shelters.

The Israeli chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, said that Israel had 
intercepted a convoy of Syrian rockets heading into Lebanon, and that the air 
force had destroyed five portable missile launchers after they were brought out 
of hiding and used.

The Israelis also said that one of their ships had been damaged not by a 
Hezbollah drone, but by a sophisticated Iranian C-802 missile, which is 
radar-guided and which the Israelis said they had not known that Hezbollah 
possessed. They said the missiles, one of which sank a civilian ship, were 
launched with the aid of Lebanese military radar along the shore. Israel then 
destroyed most of the radar installations.

In Gaza, where an Israeli soldier was taken after being captured by Palestinian 
militants on June 25, Israeli tanks and troops re-entered northern Gaza under 
the cover of helicopter gunships. The soldiers took over open land near Beit 
Hanun, often used by militants to launch rockets into Israel. In firefights and 
missiles strikes, three Palestinian militants were killed.

Early Monday, an Israeli airstrike flattened the eight-story Palestinian Foreign
Ministry building in Gaza City, and a separate air strike gutted the offices of 
a Hamas-led security force in Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip, Reuters 

In Tel Aviv, about 2,000 people, both Jewish and Arab, marched to demand an end 
to the Israeli offensive in Lebanon. The demonstrators, organized by Israeli 
peace groups, chanted ³Yes to a prisoner exchange² and ³Yes to peace.²

Jad Mouawad reported from Beirut, Lebanon, for this article, and Steven Erlanger
from Jerusalem. Reporting was contributed by Greg Myre from Haifa, Israel, 
Hassan M. Fattah and Nada Bakri from Beirut, Nazila Fathi from Tehran and Craig 
S. Smith from Gaza.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

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