At least 24 civilians dead in latest Israeli attacks

 

At least 24 civilians, several of whom were children, have been killed and scores wounded in the latest Israeli attacks on Lebanon.

And it at the time of writing, there were reports that eight people were killed this evening in an air raid on a village in the south of the country. It is understood that five of the dead had dual Canadian and Lebanese citizenship, a health ministry official said.

It was not immediately clear what was the target of the raid in Aitaroun village.

At least 16 civilians were killed and scores wounded in an earlier Israeli attack on the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre. Witnesses said most of the casualties were caused by a strike on a building used by rescue workers in the city.

The toll is expected to increase as more victims are feared trapped under the rubble. Dozens more were wounded from the raid that flattened a multi-storey building housing civilians and civil defence workers in Tyre.

A Lebanese man screams as he holds the body of a 15 year-old boy, named as Hadi Zayat, who was killed by an Israeli missile in the southern city of Tyre this afternoon.
A Lebanese man screams as he holds the body of a 15 year-old boy, named as Hadi Zayat, who was killed by an Israeli missile in the southern city of Tyre this afternoon.

The latest Israeli attacks come hours after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned there would be "far-reaching consequences" for a rocket attack on Haifa this morning that killed eight Israeli civilians.

Israel's defence minister Amir Peretz said that his country will not stop its offensive in Lebanon until "the reality changes". He said the army would continue to target the sources of guerrilla rocket fire into northern Israel.

But, Mr Peretz added, Israel will not reoccupy Lebanon, nor will it stay there for the long term. At at a meeting with officials in Haifa, where eight people were killed today in a missile strike, Mr Peretz promised that the army would continue to fight the Lebanese guerrillas to stop the attacks on northern Israel.

"We've no intention of stopping this campaign until the reality has changed," he said.

"Whoever hit Haifa will pay a heavy price." Mr Peretz also urged Israelis to be strong, remain calm and have patience, while the army continued its offensive to try to stop the rocket fire.

Meanwhile, a  member of the Lebanese Cabinet accused Israel of using banned weapons against its civilians.

"We are facing a real annihilation carried out by Israel," Information Minister Ghazi Aridi said after an emergency cabinet meeting.

"Israel is using internationally prohibited weapons against civilians," he said.

He did not elaborate, but Lebanese media reports, which could not be confirmed, claimed Israel had used phosphorus incendiary bombs and vacuum bombs, which suck up the air and collapse buildings.

Also today, a Saudi official said the kingdom was talking with other countries about how to stop the violence between Israel and Hezbollah.

"The Israeli leadership knows that destroying the Lebanese economy and terrorising the Lebanese people will not serve its security, stability or future in the region," the official said.