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Lebanese P.M. Calls for Ceasefire; Israeli Air Strikes Continue

  • VOA News

Israel has struck targets deep inside Lebanon, knocking out coastal radar sites and hitting buildings used by Hezbollah and Hamas militants in Beirut and Baalbek. For its part, Hezbollah continued to fire rockets from Lebanon into Israel.

The Israeli airstrikes killed at least 32 Lebaneseon Saturday, most of them civilians. About 100 Lebanese have died since the fighting broke out Wednesday. Since the conflict began, four Israeli civilians have been killed by Hezbollah rockets.

In the deadliest attack on Saturday, 15 civilians died in southern Lebanon as they tried to flee. Israel also hit the Beirut seaport and the northern city of Tripoli for the first time. Israel also bombed buildings used by Hezbollah and Hamas militants in Beirut and Baalbek.

Speaking on Lebanese television, Prime Minister Fuad Siniora called Israel a "criminal machine" carrying out collective punishment on Lebanon. He appealed to the United Nations to broker an immediate ceasefire.

Meanwhile, Israel moved American-made Patriot missiles to Haifa to intercept Hezbollah rockets.

Israel's offensive in Lebanon began after Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers Wednesday in a cross-border raid.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has pledged to continue the offensive until Hezbollah guerrillas are disarmed and the captured Israeli soldiers are released.

On Friday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah vowed "open war" against Israel after surviving an Israeli airstrike on his home and office in Beirut.

An Israeli intelligence official says an Iranian missile was used in a Hezbollah attack Friday on an Israeli navy ship off the Beirut coast. One Israeli soldier was killed and three are missing in the attack.

Nine Israeli soldiers have died in the fighting overall and four Israeli civilians have died in Hezbollah rocket attacks.

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