The Lebanese resistance, Hezbollah, yesterday hit back after Tuesday night’s Israeli commando raid on Baalbek – by firing up to 300 rockets into Israel.
One rocket struck home 70kms into Israel, hitting the town of Beit Shean, the furthest strike so far.
Hezbollah said the Khaibar-1, which the Israelis claimed to be a modified Iranian Fajr-5 missile, was a new type of rocket with a longer range than the hundreds of Katyusha rockets fired into Israel so far.
Hezbollah rockets struck the Israeli towns of Tiberias, Maalot, Kiryat Shemona and Safed. One person was killed when a missile hit Nahariya.
Israeli warplanes destroyed two bridges in northern Lebanon and killed three Lebanese soldiers in the southern port of Sidon.
The battle at Baalbek, north of Beirut in the Bekaa Valley began at midnight Tuesday. Israeli commandos were landed by helicopter gunships and proceeded to attack al-Hikmah hospital while Israeli warplanes launched air strikes.
Seven members of a family were found dead in one house after one attack on a nearby village.
Hezbollah repulsed the attack killing at least seven elite troops. The Israelis claimed to have captured five Hezbollah fighters but this was rejected by Hezbollah.
Hezbollah MP for the Baalbek region, Hussein Haj Hassan also said: ‘The Israeli army lies again because the Lebanese captured last night were civilian people and they are more than 50 years old and we defy the Israeli army to show them to the media immediately.’
Hezbollah fighters battled thousands of Israeli ground forces on five fronts along the Lebanese border yesterday in firefights involving mortars, anti-tank rockets and machine guns as Israeli artillery shelled southern border villages.
Hezbollah said its fighters had destroyed four Israeli tanks and a bulldozer in the morning’s clashes.
An Israeli military spokesman said that around 7,000 troops were engaged in fighting Hezbollah inside Lebanon yesterday.
Meanwhile Lebanese Transport and Public Works Minister Mohammed al-Safadi said Lebanon needs at least $2bn in aid to repair the damage so far caused to his country.
He said: ‘Our preliminary valuation is about $2 billion. That’s roads, bridges, ports, the airport, up to now.’
He added: ‘Most of the country is completely destroyed. It will take four years to restore bridges.
‘Israel is completely to blame. We are supporting the resistance, of which Hezbollah is the main part, to make Israel withdraw from Lebanon.’
Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert said the invasion would continue: ‘I said I’d be ready to enter a ceasefire when the international forces, not will be ready, but will be deployed.
‘We’re not going to stop the fire and wait for weeks until the international force comes in.’
Meanwhile France said it was ‘premature’ to call for a meeting at UN headquarters in New York tomorrow of potential contributors to an international force in Lebanon.
French foreign ministry spokesman Denis Simonneau said in Paris: ‘France believes that the conditions for the force’s deployment have not been met.’