Israel Approves 'Full Force' Strikes

Israeli soldiers walk on a highway along the border with Lebanon after crossing Israel after overnight operations in Lebanon Sunday, July 30, 2006. AP

Israel's Security Cabinet early Tuesday approved widening the ground offensive in Lebanon, a participant said, and rejected a cease-fire until an international force is in place.

The Israelis hope with a more aggressive push that by Thursday they will have destroyed all Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon, CBS News correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi reports.

Thousands of army reserves have been called up in recent days in advance of the decision, which is expected to lead to sending more troops into the border area. Israeli leaders have said they want to carve out a zone about 1 mile wide that would be free of Hezbollah emplacements.

During the day, Lebanese fled north in overflowing trucks and cars, taking advantage of a lull in Israeli bombardment. Israel's prime minister took a tough line, apologizing for the deaths of dozens of Lebanese civilians in a single strike but declaring there will be no cease-fire.

CBS News correspondent Lee Cowan reports that Qana, the site of the strike, has become a rallying cry — one that's done more for Hezbollah's cause than anything else since the war began.

"The Lebanese people were split," one man in Qana told CBS News. "But after the Israeli massacre in Qana, we are all behind Hezbollah now."

Israeli forces have been operating in two segments of south Lebanon, sweeping through villages, fighting Hezbollah gunmen and leaving considerable destruction behind.

The participant, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters, said Israel's air strikes in Lebanon would resume "in full force" after the 48-hour suspension expires in another day.

Israel agreed to the suspension, which began early Monday, in the wake of its bombing of a building in Qana, which killed killing dozens of civilians, most of them women and children.

But if the conflict is any closer to an end, there are few signs of it on the front lines, Alfonsi reports. In Israel, more tanks and troops are being pushed further into the Lebanon border.

However, the Security Cabinet, a decision-making body made up of senior ministers, decided to resume the offensive and broaden ground operations.

The participant said the international force must have the ability to intervene with force if necessary to keep Hezbollah guerrillas from returning to the border area. He said there was no deadline for the Israeli offensive, though the United Nations Security Council is expected to debate a resolution this week about a cease-fire.

In other developments:

  • At least one Republican is breaking ranks with the White House over the Mideast. Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., says America's image in the region is suffering. Hagel calls the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah "sickening slaughter." He says both sides need to stop now. Hagel also says Israel's pounding of Lebanon is hurting America's image in the Middle East.

  • The attack that killed dozens of Lebanese civilians in Qana is resonating in Iraq, with protestors carrying coffins symbolizing dead Lebanese children, Cowan reports. Sunnis and Shiites, who usually can't agree about anything, are finding common ground in support for Hezbollah.

  • Hezbollah's Al-Manar television claimed that guerrillas hit an Israeli warship off the coast with missiles Monday. The Israeli military denied the claim. The White House referred questions about the claim to Israel.

  • Syrian President Bashar Assad called on his army Monday to increase readiness to cope with "regional challenges." Travelers from Syria have reported that some reservists have been called up for military duty — a sign that Syria is concerned the fighting in Lebanon could spill over.

  • Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday that Israel's attack on Qana complicated her diplomatic push in the Middle East. She acknowledged that there is "a lot of work to do" to bring about a lasting cease-fire.

  • Haifa returned to life after Israel's suspension of air strikes in Lebanon, reports . However, police were on high alert, sealing off streets and setting up roadblocks for fear of a suicide bombing attempt.

  • At least 524 people have been killed in Lebanon since the fighting began, according to the Health Ministry. Fifty-one Israelis have died, including 33 soldiers and 18 civilians who died in rocket attacks.

    • Lloyd Vries

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