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Israel Prepares Ground Offensive in Southern Lebanon

  • VOA News

Israel is massing tanks and troops along its border with Lebanon as it prepares an expected ground invasion to battle Hezbollah militants.

Throughout the day, Israeli tanks converged on northern Israel, forming a long line along a highway near the Lebanese border. One Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronoth said thousands of Israeli troops were headed toward the border.

Israel's Defense Minister Amir Peretz said on Friday that his government is debating the size of the operation.

Earlier today, Israeli planes continued to bomb targets across Lebanon and dropped leaflets over southern Lebanon warning civilians to move north of the Litani River about 30 kilometers from the Israeli border.

Civilians in large numbers have been fleeing southern Lebanon today in cars waving white flags.

In Beirut, President Emile Lahoud said the Lebanese army will fight what he called Israel's "invading force."

In the southern Lebanese town of Tyre, officials buried more than 70 people killed in recent Israeli bombardments. Volunteers put the bodies in wooden coffins and buried them in a mass grave.

Hezbollah fired more rockets at Israeli towns today. In the port city of Haifa, at least 19 people were injured in the attacks.

Lebanese officials say more than 300 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Israeli attacks. Israel says it has lost more than 30 people since July 12th, when Hezbollah captured the two Israeli soldiers.

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