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Israelis Head To Bomb Shelters

Residents of Haifa, Israel's third largest city and a major port, were ordered into bomb shelters as evening fell Friday, following rocket attacks throughout the day, even though Haifa is some 18 miles south of the border with Lebanon.

Residents were shocked when the first attacks hit Haifa Thursday: No guerrilla rocket had ever reached that far into Israel.

Throughout the country, two Israelis have been killed and about 50 wounded by the more than 60 rocket attacks since Wednesday.

Along Israel's northern border, at least 220,000 people now are living in bomb shelters, reports CBS News correspondent Richard Roth. Hundreds of Hezbollah rockets have fallen there in the last two days, and Israelis are stocking up. They don't expect it will end soon.

Israel and Lebanon continued to exchange warnings — and shells — all day Friday, reports Roth.

Israel has widened its offensive on Lebanon, with fighter bombers blasting the airport for a second day, residential buildings in the southern suburbs of the capital, igniting fuel storage tanks and cutting the main highway to Syria.

President Bush promised Lebanon's leader Friday that he would urge Israel to avoid civilian casualties and damage as it steps up attacks on its neighbor.

"President Bush affirmed his readiness to put pressure on Israel to limit the damage to Lebanon as a result of the current military action, and to spare civilians and innocent people from harm," a statement from Lebanese officials said.

But Mr. Bush's promise to Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora fell short of his request for pressure for a cease-fire, according to an account from Saniora's office. The White House confirmed the call, but would provide no details of the discussions.

The president also talked to the leaders of Jordan and Egypt, reports CBS News White House correspondent Peter Maer.

In other developments:
  • Hundreds of Palestinians poured into the Gaza Strip from Egypt on Friday after militants blew a hole in the border wall. The border has largely been closed since June 25, when Palestinian militants carried out a cross-border raid on a military outpost, killing two Israeli soldiers and capturing one. Hundreds of people have been stranded on the Egyptian side of the border, unable to get to their homes in Gaza.
  • Israeli jets renewed attacks on a southern suburb of Beirut Friday, targeting a radio station belonging to Hezbollah guerrillas, the group said. Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV reported the Israeli missiles missed the facility and struck an apartment in a residential building instead. An Al-Jazeera reporter on the scene, however, said the radio station was hit. There was no immediate word on casualties, and the station remained on the air.
  • Intensifying violence in the Middle East on Friday stoked fears of an oil-supply disruption in the region, pushing oil prices toward $80 a barrel.
  • Israel will not halt its offensive in Lebanon until Hezbollah guerrillas are disarmed, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan by telephone Friday. "The biggest problem for the U.N. in trying to diffuse the crisis in the Middle East is that the violence is caused by terrorist groups, not states," said CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk.

    Beirut airport officials said one of their three runways was hit by two Israeli missiles at mid-morning Friday. The airport had been closed since Israeli fighter-bombers struck its runways early Thursday.

    With aviation fuel on fire and runways in ruins, Israel has been choking off transport in and out of Lebanon, reports Roth. Bombs hit the highway linking Beirut with the Syrian capital of Damascus. Travel is only possible now along tortuous mountain detours.

    Debbie Nassif, a Lebanese-American who has been visiting her family in the Bekaa Valley, is stranded.

    "I was leaving tonight. And now, I have no clue how I'm going to leave, when I'm going to leave, from where," Nassif said. "We can't even go to the Syrian border, because we called the U.S. and Canadian embassies, and they recommend not going to the Syrian border."

    A senior State Department official said the best advice for the moment is for American citizens to stay where they are and to let the U.S. Embassy in Beirut know how to reach them if they have not already done so, reports CBS News' Charles Wolfson.

    Israel says the air and naval blockade will remain in force until Hezbollah is driven out of South Lebanon, reports CBS News correspondent Robert Berger.

  • The overnight death toll brought to 61 the number of people killed since Wednesday when Israel began retaliating for the capture of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah guerrillas in a raid across the southern Lebanese border. Sixty of those have been civilians, only one a militant, Lebanese authorities say.

    "Hezbollah wants to assert its primacy in the anti-Israeli forces. Iran and Syria are clearly using Hezbollah as a vehicle to get at Israel," Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said on CBS News' The Early Show.

    Israel's offensive had several goals: to pressure Hezbollah to release the Israeli soldiers, to push the guerrilla group away from Israel's northern border and to exact a price from Lebanon's government for allowing Hezbollah to operate freely in the south.

    The Israeli offensive caused political waves in Lebanon. Hezbollah was criticized by anti-Syrian politicians who accused the militant group of acting unilaterally and dragging the country into a costly confrontation with Israel.

    "Hezbollah is playing a dangerous game that exceeds the border of Lebanon," Druse leader Walid Jumblatt said in comments published Friday.

    But Jumblatt, a leading anti-Syrian figure, also denounced the Israeli attacks on Lebanon, calling them completely unjustified.

    "Hezbollah does have support in the Shia majority in Lebanon, but the majority of people in Lebanon don't want this. They want a normal life," Haass told Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

    Clearing away broken glass at his shop in Beirut, Fadi Haidar, 36, estimated the damage to his electrical appliances store at $10,000-$15,000.

    "I have huge debts and now my store is damaged. But Israel is our enemy and every Muslim must make a sacrifice," he said.

    He rejected criticism of Hezbollah and its leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, for kidnapping the Israeli soldiers.

    "As time goes by, they will all realize that Sayyed Nasrallah is right and is working in the interest of Muslims," he said.

    A young man with blood pouring down his face and on to his bare chest was shown on Lebanese TV walking out of a damaged apartment building.

    The TV showed a missile had gouged a huge crater out of the main Mar Mikhail crossroads in southern Beirut.

    Firemen were seen struggling to put out several fires as glass, aluminum siding and stones littered the streets.

    Israeli warships shelled the coastal highway north of Sidon, slowing down traffic considerably but not actually cutting the road, witnesses reported.

    Israeli planes also hit transmission antennas for local TV stations in the eastern Bekaa Valley, a Hezbollah stronghold. Anwar Raja of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine — General Command said the planes struck the communications towers, but did not hit the guerrillas' base at Qousaya.

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