|Armoured columns of the Israeli Defense Forces are meeting resistance as they move deeper into Lebanon in an attempt to capture the Hezbollah stronghold of Khiam.
The Lebanese-Israeli conflict map, July 2006 Done By: Omernos
On Wednesday, the Israeli government approved a plan to widen its war in Lebanon in an attempt to destroy Hezbollah's installation and neutralize its ability to launch rockets. The cabinet has authorized the Israeli army to advance as far north as the Litani River, 18 kilometres north of the Lebanese-Israeli border. However, Israel says yesterday's push is not part of that campaign.
"It's a small operation that looks large from where we're looking right now, but this is not opening up any new front," IDF spokeswoman Miri Eisen said. "It's taking care of one that has been consistently hitting Kiryat Shmona."
Hezbollah officials reacted angrily to the Israeli cabinet's decision. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah appeared on Al-Manar television, and threatened to make southern Lebanon "a graveyard" for the Israelis.
"I say to the Zionists, you could come anywhere, invade, land airborne forces, enter this village or that, but I repeat, all this will cost you a high price," he said.
The Israeli army says 15 of its soldiers were killed in combat, Wednesday, and that 40 Hezbollah fighters died the same day. Hezbollah fired more than 100 rockets into Israel; no casualties were reported.
The IDF says it has approximately 10,000 troops on the ground in southern Lebanon.
As the fighting raged, US sources said they no longer expected their draft UN resolution calling for a ceasefire in Lebanon to come to the Security Council by Thursday due to a disagreement over whether the resolution should call for an immediate Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon. The resolution was to be cosponsored by the United States and France but the two countries are now at odds over how to reword the proposal in light of Arab objections to the original draft. The French have accepted a Lebanese offer to send 15,000 troops into the south to monitor the ceasefire if Israel withdraws immediately while the US wants Israel to be able to remain in southern Lebanon for a few weeks until a new multi-national force arrives.
More than 1000 Lebanese, mostly civilians, have died in the month-long conflict according to Lebanon's government. 100 Israelis, mostly soldiers, have also been killed.