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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 August 2006, 14:36 GMT 15:36 UK
Olmert says fighting will go on
Israeli troops walking into Lebanon
Israel has continued to send more troops into south Lebanon
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said that there will be no ceasefire in Lebanon until an international force is deployed in the south of the country.

He said if Israel stopped and waited for peacekeepers, Hezbollah would seize the chance to stage yet more attacks.

Earlier, Israeli troops raided Baalbek, deep inside Lebanon, seizing five people they say are Hezbollah fighters.

Hezbollah on Wednesday launched its biggest single-day barrage, firing 190 rockets including one 70km into Israel.

Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Olmert said that "the infrastructure of Hezbollah has been entirely destroyed" with more than 700 command positions "wiped out".

The hail of rockets included the furthest hit so far, with one rocket landing near the town of Beit Shean on the edge of the West Bank, 70km from the Lebanese border.

One person was killed in the town of Nahariya on the west coast and another 19 people were reported injured across northern Israel.

A rocket also landed in the West Bank, near the village of Faqua.

Map

Hezbollah militants have claimed they used a new type of rocket for the attack - a Khaibar-1, thought by the Israelis to be a modified Iranian Fajr-5, which has a longer range than the Katyusha rockets they usually fire into Israel.

About 750 people - mainly civilians - have been killed by Israeli action in Lebanon, according to Lebanon's health minister.

A total of 54 Israelis, including at least 19 civilians, are known to have been killed by Hezbollah.

'Weeks of fighting'

Israeli troops pushed further into southern Lebanon overnight as they stepped up their campaign, which began three weeks ago after Hezbollah militants captured two Israeli soldiers.

Man inspecting house damage in Nahariya
Hezbollah is still able to inflict damage in northern Israel

"I said I'd be ready to enter a ceasefire when the international forces, not will be ready, but will be deployed," Mr Olmert said of the timetable for a halt to the violence.

The BBC's security correspondent Frank Gardner says that with no international force, nor its mandate, yet agreed this could mean weeks of more fighting.

Mr Olmert's comments came hours after Israeli commandos staged an attack on the town of Baalbek, 100km (60 miles) inside Lebanon.

Commandos attack

Ten people died in the raid - Israel claims they were all militants, Hezbollah that they were civilians.

It began with air strikes, after which Israeli commandos landed by helicopter near a hospital on the outskirts of the town, sparking fierce clashes with Hezbollah guerrillas for several hours.

There have been reports that Israeli military officials believed their two captured soldiers were being held at the hospital.

The Israeli military says it seized five Hezbollah members in the raid, who were then transferred to Israel.

Hezbollah said they inflicted casualties on the commandos, but Israel says all of its troops returned to base safely.

In a statement on al-Manar television, Hezbollah said those captured were "ordinary citizens".

This view was echoed by the Hezbollah member of parliament for the Baalbek region, Hussein Haj Hassan.

Israeli air strikes also hit Jammaliyeh, a village near Baalbek, killing several civilians including five members of one family, witnesses said.

Baalbek is a Hezbollah stronghold and home to several senior members of the group, which has been repeatedly bombed by Israel since the conflict began.

This is the first time Israel has sent ground troops so far into Lebanon during the offensive.

Correspondents say the move has destroyed the slight mood of optimism in Lebanon that diplomatic efforts to bring about a ceasefire following the deadly strike on the village of Qana, in which 54 civilians died, were gathering momentum.

[Note: The number of people killed in the Israeli bombing of Qana was later revised. The Washington based human rights group Human Rights Watch investigated the incident and issued a report on 3 August saying that 28 people were known to have died, while 13 people were missing.]


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The Israeli PM on the operation in Lebanon





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