Eight dead in Haifa rocket attack
Sunday July 16, 2006 9:58 PM
Lebanese braced for a ferocious Israeli assault after a Hezbollah rocket barrage on the Israeli city of Haifa killed eight people.
The dramatic turning point in the five-day-old violence led Israel to lash out again at Syria and Iran, accusing them of providing guerrillas with sophisticated weapons.
World powers -- fearing the violence could spiral out of control -- began taking their first action, producing a framework for ending the crisis as a UN envoy landed in Beirut.
But both Israel and Hezbollah signalled that the gloves had come off in an already brutal battle that has killed at least 148 in Lebanon and 23 in Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vowed there would be "far-reaching consequences" for Hezbollah's deadliest strike ever on Israel. The morning barrage of 20 rockets on Haifa came after Israeli warplanes unleashed their heaviest strikes yet on Beirut, flattening apartment buildings and blowing up a power station to cut electricity to swaths of the capital.
Hezbollah's leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah vowed that despite the barrage, the guerrillas were "in their full strength and power" and that its "missile stockpiles are still full."
"When the Zionists behave like there are no rules and no red lines and no limits to the confrontation, it is our right to behave in the same way," a tired-looking but defiant Nasrallah said in a televised address. He said Hezbollah hit Haifa because of Israel's hits on Lebanese civilians.
Smoke rose over Haifa and air raid sirens wailed as the dead and wounded were evacuated from a train station warehouse full of workers that took a direct hit in the strike, just one hour into the new work week. Orthodox rescue crews worked their way through the debris gathering pieces of flesh amid pools of blood.
In an inital response soon after, warplanes hit south Beirut around Hezbollah's headquarters, already reduced to rubble. In the southern port of Tyre, bodies were pulled from crushed concrete after an Israeli missile tore off the top of a 12-storey building, killing at least nine.
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