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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 August 2006, 13:59 GMT 14:59 UK
Israel resumes Beirut air strikes
Israeli soldiers on border
More than 10,000 Israeli troops are involved in the ground offensive
Israeli aircraft have resumed attacks on the Lebanese capital, Beirut, after a lull of several days, with early morning strikes on a southern suburb.

About 70 Hezbollah rockets also hit northern Israel, killing five, while two Israeli troops died fighting Hezbollah militants along the border.

More than 900 Lebanese people have been killed in the three-week conflict, Lebanese PM Fouad Siniora has said.

A United Nations resolution calling for a truce appears near to completion.

Map

Diplomats at the United Nations say the UK, France and the US are close to agreeing on a UN resolution calling for an immediate end to the fighting.

The three countries are hoping to present the first part of a two-stage peace plan to the other 12 members of the UN Security Council later on Thursday.

The BBC's James Robbins, at UN headquarters in New York, says a second resolution would be proposed at a later stage, focusing on a long-term settlement, including authorisation for an international peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon.

The BBC's world affairs correspondent Frank Gardner says that since such a force could take weeks, or even months to arrive, there are reports that a smaller, more rapidly deployed force of French soldiers may be sent in first.

In other developments:

  • An Israeli military report into the deaths of at least 41 civilians in Qana concluded the attack was a mistake

  • Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, at the Organisation of the Islamic Conference meeting, said the answer to the crisis was the elimination of Israel

  • Aid agencies said the severity of bomb damage to roads and bridges was having a drastic effect on efforts to distribute much-needed aid, forcing them to rely on small vehicles using slow and perilous mountain routes

'Million displaced'

In a video message to Muslim leaders meeting in Malaysia, Lebanon's prime minister said more than 3,000 people had been wounded, and that one million people - a quarter of the country's population - had been displaced.

Medic examines the body of a man killed in Nahariya by Hezbollah rocket on 2/8/06
Hezbollah's rocket attacks have increased not lessened

The latest Israeli casualties bring its death toll to 62, including 24 civilians.

The Israeli air force said it carried out 70 raids on Lebanon overnight.

Four large explosions hit the southern Beirut suburb of Dahieh, a Hezbollah stronghold, early in the morning as Israeli war planes attacked the area for the first time in more than a week.

Dahieh was heavily bombed earlier in the Israeli campaign.

Three members of the same family were killed when an Israeli missile hit their home in a southern village of Taibe, Lebanese security officials said.

There were also air strikes in the southern town of Nabatiyeh, on a bridge in the northern region of Akkar and roads near the border with Syria, and in the Bekaa Valley.

In southern Lebanon the fighting rages on in at least five areas along the border where Israel has launched ground incursions with more than 10,000 ground troops.

UN force plan

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said there will be no ceasefire until an international force is deployed in southern Lebanon.

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Since when has any country not attacked their enemies because civilians were in the area?
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Mr Olmert has said that about 15,000 foreign troops would be needed for such a UN peacekeeping force and that their arrival in the area must overlap with Israel's withdrawal from Lebanese territory.

In interviews with UK newspapers The Times and Financial Times, Mr Olmert said the force must have proper combat units, able to implement UN resolutions.

He also said that Israel would reserve the right to respond to any aggression by Hezbollah - even after the international force was deployed.

"I can tell you only one thing - if our soldiers or our cities are attacked by Hezbollah, we will respond," Mr Olmert told the Times. "Israel will never, ever allow anyone any more to attack Israel without response."

The Israeli campaign began three weeks ago after Hezbollah militants captured two Israeli soldiers.


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Israeli troops crossing the border





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