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Israeli Warplanes in Action Despite Promised Bombing Pause


Israeli warplanes carried out an air strike in southern Lebanon today (Monday) despite a promised 48-hour suspension of aerial bombing, and the Israeli government said it is expanding its offensive against Hezbollah guerrillas.

Israeli officials say the air strike (near Taibe village) was ordered to support ground troops battling Hezbollah militants, after an antitank missile hit an Israeli armored vehicle and wounded three soldiers.

Israeli had said a 48-hour pause in its aerial bombing campaign in Lebanon began before dawn today, but also warned that air strikes against Hezbollah could resume at any time, in the event of an imminent guerrilla attack.

Israeli naval forces fired on a Lebanese military position today north of the port city of Tyre, killing one Lebanese soldier and wounding three others. And reports from the other side of the Israeli border say several Hezbollah rockets hit the (Israeli) town of Kiryat Shemona but caused no casualties.

Israel's defense minister (Amir Peretz) rejected rising international demands for an immediate ceasefire, saying that would allow extremists to resume their attacks.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says she believes a full ceasefire to end fighting between Israel and the Hezbollah guerrilla group in Lebanon can be reached this week.

Rice said in Jerusalem today (Monday) that she will call for a U.N. resolution this week on the ceasefire, as well as establishment of an international stabilization force for Lebanon.

Speaking to reporters before returning to Washington (today), Rice said there is an emerging consensus on the conditions needed for a ceasefire and a long-term solution to the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.

Senior officials in Russia and France are calling for Israel's 48-hour pause in aerial bombing to be expanded to a full and immediate ceasefire that would halt all fighting.

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin says Israel's decision to stop bombing Hezbollah targets is a first step, but that it does not go far enough.

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