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ISRAELI FREE-FIRE ZONE IN SOUTH LEBANON

PM Olmert: 'Nothing Will Deter Us From Our Mission To Eliminate Hezbollah Threat From Lebanon'

PM Olmert, this morning

Following the Hezbollah missile barrage that killed eight people and injuring dozens of others in Haifa, Israel is apparently going to establish a free fire zone in south Lebanon.

 

Blood on the railroad

The barrage of Hezbollah missiles slammed into the railway's workshop killing eight people and wounding dozens of others. For the first time, Hezbollah launched Raad#2 and Raad#3 which carry a bigger payload than the Katyusha. The attack came as the Israeli cabinet was about to convene in Jerusalem for its weekly session. Prime Minister Olmert declared that the Haifa was part of the Hezbollah campaign to terrorize the Israeli people and it would have 'far reaching consequences'. He called on the Israeli people to continue showing patience and steadfastness saying the defense forces would root out the terrorist threat from Lebanon. But at the same time, civil defense officials warned Israelis all the way south to Tel Aviv that they might also come under Hezbollah rocket fire. Hezbollah has also warned that it could target Haifa's petrochemical complex and oil refinery. Haifa's streets are nearly deserted as residents join hundreds of thousands of other Israelis in northern Israel who have taken to bomb shelters in light of the Hezbollah onslaught.

Meanwhile, Israeli aircraft artillery and naval vessels are stepping up their pounding of Hezbollah and other targets in Lebanon. In a new development, General Udi Adam has warned residents of south Lebanon to evacuate. Hezbollah launches rockets from inside or near villages in the area and the Israeli military is about to clobber the region. Israel is apparently about to establish a free- fire zone in south Lebanon to suppress the rocketing.

If this does not work, the Israeli government might haver to consider launching a ground offensive into south Lebanon to drive the Hezbollah missiles out of range. Some Israeli special forces have been conducting operations inside Lebanon to seek and destroy Hezbollah targets. However, an Israeli decision for the tanks and troops to roll back into Lebanon would come only as a last resort.

David Essing

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