Hizballah Rockets Go Deeper and Deeper Into Israel

July 7, 2008 - 8:17 PM

Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - Hizballah rockets kept slamming into northern Israeli cities on Monday, despite Israel's continuing attempt to wipe out Hizballah's rocket-firing ability in southern Lebanon.

The Israeli Air Force continued to pound targets in Lebanon on Monday, hitting sites that the Israeli Army described as Hizballah "terror targets" and infrastructure.

More than 120 rockets have been fired at northern Israeli communities during the last 24 hours, the army said on Monday morning, as rockets continued to fall on the Israeli port city of Haifa and other northern communities.

One Katyusha rocket made a direct hit on a three-story apartment building in Haifa on Monday. Six people were wounded, one seriously, when the top two floors of the building collapsed.

On Sunday, eight Israeli workers were killed in a rocket attack on a train depot in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, the deadliest single attack in Israel so far.

All through the weekend and into Monday, sirens warned of more incoming rockets fired from Lebanon. In the past six days, some 650 rockets have slammed into northern Israeli cities and communities, killing a total of 12 civilians. Twelve Israeli servicemen also have been killed.

About one million Israelis have been told to stay in bomb shelters and secure, inner rooms, while residents of the Tel Aviv area have been warned to "remain alert" after Hizballah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah pledged on Sunday to "surprise" Israel beyond Haifa.

The rockets are reaching deeper into Israel than they ever have before, hitting Israeli communities some 50 kilometers (30 miles) into Israel.

Israeli government spokesperson Miri Eisen said that Tel Aviv, Israel's commercial and financial center, may become a target for Hizballah.

The Lebanese terror group - supported and armed by Iran and Syria -- has missiles that could reach Tel Aviv and even further south, Eisen said in Haifa.

"I will go so far to say that I think Hizballah will take that step and it's a step of desperation from their side," said Eisen. "It is exactly because they are being hunted and hounded both within Lebanon and outside."

Eisen said she believed that the Israeli people were resilient enough to weather this storm for as long as it takes Israel to finish the job of crushing Hizballah in Lebanon.

Deadliest attack

The deadliest attack so far happened on Sunday when a Katyusha rocket crashed into the main train-repair facility in Haifa. Windows were smashed out of the trains and glass was strewn about. Pools of blood stood on the platform where eight workers died.

One Haifa journalist said the waves of rocket attacks produce more anxiety than other terror attacks because no knows when or where the next rocket will strike. He said he was afraid for his family.

As journalists gathered at the train depot on Sunday, the air raid siren blared at midday, warning anyone within earshot that they had a minute or less to take cover before another katyusha rocket struck. The rocket landed somewhere in the distance.

'Damascus must pay a price'

On Saturday, for the first time in nearly 40 years, a rocket hit an apartment building in the quiet northern town of Tiberias, which overlooks the Sea of Galilee. The rocket collapsed the side of the penthouse apartment.

A crystal bowl sat on the floor amid the heavy damage. No one was in the apartment when the rocket slammed into the penthouse.

A large crowd of neighbors and onlookers gathered at the building despite the fact that it was the Sabbath.

Yossi Dayan lives in the building next to the one damaged by the Katyusha. "I was playing soccer," said Dayan. "I thought my life was over. I though I wouldn't see anything, not [even] my parents."

But Avishai, 68, said he was not afraid of the rockets.

"Israel needs to destroy the terror to the end and not leave one terrorist, from the smallest to the greatest," said Avishai.

Israeli Knesset member Avigdor Lieberman, head of the rightwing Israel Beiteinu party, arrived at the site to survey the damage. "The key is in Damascus," he said. "[They] also need to pay the price."

Eerie silence

On Saturday and Sunday, most of northern Israel was deserted. Normally bustling cities with their heavy traffic fell silent. Though the sun was shining and the weather warm, there were virtually no sun-bathers on the beaches at the Sea of Galilee or along the northern Mediterranean coast of Israel.

Israeli artillery and incoming katyusha rockets could be heard in the distance and puffs of smoke hung over the hills of the Galilee as rockets fell on the area. Along the road a volunteer directed small planes as they dropped chemicals on a forest fire started by rockets landing in wooded areas.

A few people defied the danger, including Sergei Sherman, 35. He was riding bicycle from the northern city of Kiryat Shemona to go for a swim in the Jordan River, he said.

"They told us to stay in the shelters. But [God] gave me one life to live. He knows when I'm going to die. I don't think my time is now," he said.

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