Alarming new weapons in the hands of Hezbollah. From AP:
BEIRUT, Lebanon – Hezbollah rammed an Israeli warship with an unmanned aircraft rigged with explosives Friday, setting it ablaze after Israeli warplanes smashed Lebanon’s links to the world one by one and destroyed the headquarters of the Islamic guerrilla group’s leader….
Israel again bombarded Lebanon’s airport and main roads in the most intensive offensive against the country in 24 years. For the first time it struck the crowded Shiite neighborhood of south Beirut around Hezbollah’s headquarters, toppling overpasses and sheering facades off apartment buildings. Concrete from balconies smashed into parked cars, and car alarms set off by the blasts blared for hours.
The toll in three days of clashes rose to 73 killed in Lebanon and at least 12 Israelis, as international alarm grew over the fighting and oil prices rose to above $78 a barrel. The U.N. Security Council held an emergency session on the violence, and Lebanon accused Israel of launching “a widespread barbaric aggression.”
In addition to the fighting in Lebanon, Israel pressed ahead with its offensive in the Gaza Strip against Hamas, striking the Palestinian economy ministry offices early Saturday.
The ramming of the Israeli warship indicated Hezbollah has added a new weapon to the arsenal of rockets and mortars it has used against Israel. The Israeli army said the ship suffered severe damage and was on fire hours later as it headed home. There were no details on the ship’s crew, though Al-Jazeera TV said the Israeli military was searching for four missing sailors….
Hezbollah rained dozens of rockets on towns in northern Israel. One rocket hit a home in Meron, killing a woman and her grandson. Some 220,000 people in northern towns hunkered down in bomb shelters….
The attack on the warship was apparently timed to coincide with Nasrallah’s message on the militant group’s television station. “The surprises that I have promised you will start now. Now in the middle of the sea, facing Beirut, the Israeli warship … look at it burning,” Nasrallah boasted.
Israeli military officials said the drone apparently was developed by Hezbollah. The Lebanese guerrilla group has managed to fly unmanned spy drones over northern Israel at least twice in recent years.
“If they kill us all, we will still not give them back the prisoners,” said one resident, Nasser Ali Nasser, as palls of smoke rose from fuel depots hit farther south. “We have nothing left to lose except our dignity. We sacrifice ourselves for Sheik Nasrallah,” he said….
“We know it’s going to be a long and continuous campaign and operation, but it’s very clear. We need to put Hezbollah out of business,” Brig. Gen. Ido Nehushtan told The Associated Press.
Israel’s army chief, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, said Hezbollah has rockets that can reach as far as 43.5 miles or more, which would bring more Israeli cities, such as Hadera, within range….
“We are on the right and we shall avenge every attack we endure,” said Fadi Haidar, an American-Lebanese who swept up the shattered glass outside his store in south Beirut. “I have huge debts and now my store is damaged. … But as time goes by, they will all realize that Sayyed Nasrallah is right and is working in the interest of Muslims.”
There was some resentment that Hezbollah had dragged the Lebanese into another bloody fight with Israel. “As long as Hezbollah has its weapons and acts according to its leader’s whims, there is pretext for Israel to keep on destroying Lebanon,” said Ibrahim al-Hajj, a Christian shop owner in the southern village of Qleia.