Air Force pounds Hizbullah hideouts

No heavy fighting reported Thursday as troops head towards Bint Jbail center.

lebanon iaf strike  (photo credit: AP)
lebanon iaf strike
(photo credit: AP)
The IAF staged a series of raids in northern, eastern and southern Lebanon on Thursday, targeting suspected Hizbullah hideouts, striking a Lebanese army base and destroying roads. Three rocket launchers and a convoy were also bombarded.
No heavy fighting was reported on the ground Thursday as IDF troops headed towards the center of Bint Jbail, where on Wednesday a well-planned Hizbullah ambush on the outskirts of the southern Lebanese village devastated Battalion 51 of the Golani Brigade, leaving eight soldiers, including three officers, dead and 24 wounded. The eight victims were identified as Lt.-Col. Ro'i Klein, 31, from Eli; Lt. Amihai Merhavia, 24, also from Eli; Sgt. Assaf Namer, 27, from Kiryat Yam; Lt. Alexander Schwartzman, 24, from Acre; St.-Sgt. Shimon Adega, 21, from Kiryat Gat; St.-Sgt. Shimon Dahan, 20, from Ashdod; St.-Sgt. Idan Cohen, 21, from Tel Aviv; and St.-Sgt. Ohad Klausner, 20, from Beit Horon. [To read their stories, click here] Later, a paratrooper officer was killed and three of his men were wounded, two seriously, when hit by an anti-tank missile on the outskirts of nearby Maroun al-Ras. The officer was later identified as Lt. Yiftah Shrier, 21, from Haifa. IAF fighter jets struck a road in Rayak, a few miles from the Lebanese-Syrian border, at 4:30 a.m. Thursday, wounding two soldiers and a civilian, the Lebanese officials said. IAF jets also carried out more than 30 bombing runs in Iqlim al Tuffah, a highland region where Hizbullah is believed to have offices and bases, the officials and witnesses said. The airstrikes, which targeted mostly deserted houses allegedly belonging to Hizbullah operatives, and roads linking villages in the region, caused a number of casualties, the officials said. Ambulances and civil defense crews were unable to reach the targeted areas because of intense bombardment, witnesses said. Planes attacked a residential neighborhood in the village of Shoukin near the southern market town of Nabatiyeh at 10:30 a.m., wounding at least three people, security officials in Nabatiyeh said. An airstrike at 9:35 a.m. on a deserted house near Nabatiyeh wounded Mohammed Hassan Bahmad who lives in a nearby house, the officials said. An hour earlier, a missile destroyed a four-story building belonging to the Shi'ite Muslim Amal Movement in the southern port city of Tyre, the officials said. The jets also struck a deserted house, owned by Khalil al-Bazaal, near the eastern city of Baalbek. It was not known whether Bazaal was a Hizbullah operative. A Hizbullah official in Tyre denied Thursday Israeli reports that the group's commander in south Lebanon, Sheik Nabil Kaouk, was killed in Wednesday's air raid on the city. Early Thursday, IAF warplanes hit a Lebanese army base and a relay station belonging to Lebanese state radio north of Beirut, local TV and radio stations said. The privately owned Lebanese Broadcasting Corp. TV station said IAF jets struck the army base at Aamchit, 50 kilometers along the Beirut-Tripoli highway north of the Lebanese capital near the coast and knocked down a relay tower in an adjacent field of antennas belonging to Radio Liban. The incident occurred at approximately 1:45 a.m. IDF officials said the target of the air strike was a radar station used by Hizbullah for attacks like the one on the Israeli missile boat on July 14. Four soldiers died in that incident. When asked about the reports on Aamchit, the officials did not give the location of the incident but referred only to "the attack north of Beirut." The attacks on Aamchit followed an Israeli air raid late Wednesday at approximately 11 p.m. that destroyed three pickup trucks witnesses said were carrying vegetables at the mountain resort town of Dhour Shweir 30 kilometers north of Beirut.