Hezbollah fighters yesterday repulsed sporadic attempts by Israeli forces to control the town of Bint Jubayl two miles inside south Lebanon.
A number of Israeli troops around the town retreated towards the Israeli border and the frontier village of Marun al-Ra’s after heavy fighting with Hezbollah fighters, local police said.
Hezbollah announced that its forces had attacked Israeli military units in Talet Masud district and Marun al-Ra’s.
In the face of Hezbollah’s fierce resistance and the continued firing of missiles on northern Israel, including one longer range missile that hit south of Haifa, nervous Israeli commanders said they would deploy Patriot anti-missile batteries near the Israeli capital, Tel Aviv
Israel continued its night and day, air and artillery bombardment yesterday and Hezbollah retaliated by firing more rockets into north Israel.
A Jordanian man was killed by Israeli fire and three members of his family were wounded when a missile slammed into a house in the village of Kfar Joz, on a hilltop overlooking the town of Nabatiyeh, Lebanese police said.
The bodies of another Lebanese couple were retrieved from under the rubble of a house in Kfar Joz, where four civilians, including three children, were also wounded in Israeli strikes.
A woman was also killed in the village of Bazurieh, south of Tyre.
Police said the 75-year-old woman had been bleeding beneath the rubble of her house and rescue efforts had failed to reach her.
Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon had said on Thursday that anyone left in the region would be treated as linked to Hezbollah.
Although thousands of people have fled the region, many thousands, including children and the elderly, still remain.
Lebanese rescue workers say scores of others remain beneath rubble.
Many villages have no water, no electricity and no fuel and are down to just a few days food supplies.
Lebanese police reported at least 27 Israeli air force bombing attacks in the Bekaa Valley east of Tyre yesterday, with more than 300 artillery shells fired at the area in the morning alone.
A Red Cross convoy yesterday brought hundreds of villagers from southern Lebanon to relative safety in the southern city of Tyre.
The villagers had been trapped in their homes for two weeks during the Israeli offensive.
Another convoy bringing villagers from the south to Tyre, organised by Lebanese civil defence workers, was hit by an Israeli mortar strike.
A German camera crew member and his driver were injured and their car was damaged.
The UN has decided to withdraw its observers from posts near the Lebanon/Israeli border after four were killed in a sustained Israeli bombardment on their post.
The Lebanese health minister said as many as 600 civilians have been killed since the Israeli attacks on Lebanon began.
Daniel Toole from UNICEF said: ‘We estimate that at least 30 per cent of the casualties, those dead, are children.
‘We estimate that probably 45 per cent of the displaced are children because there are so many people on the move.’
Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz said the military offensive will continue until the power of Hezbollah has been reduced.
He added: ‘It might take time, it might take more force. We have plenty of both.’
The Israeli government announced that it is calling up three divisions of reservists.
UK prime minister Blair was in Washington for talks with US president Bush on the Middle East crisis.
Labour MPs are increasingly urging Blair to call for an immediate ceasefire, as has the public sector union UNISON.
Labour MP Andy Love said: ‘We are standing by as the carnage unfolds, as larger and larger numbers are displaced. We are standing by while innocent people, women and children, UN monitors, are killed.’
Blair is expected to do exactly what Bush tells him to do.