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New Focus For Israeli Bombs

Israel, which has been battling Hezbollah mainly in southern Lebanon, early Monday carried out two air raids on suspected guerrilla positions in eastern Lebanon – near the Syrian border.

Israeli jets reportedly carried out two raids at approximately 1:30 a.m. local time near the village of Yanta, about three miles from the Syrian border.

The attacks happened at a time when some had believed that Israel had already begun a temporary halt in air strikes – announced 90 minutes earlier, at midnight local time.

But according to an Israeli army spokesman early Monday, the halt in air raids – announced for humanitarian reasons – did not begin until 2 a.m. local time: a half hour after the air strikes in eastern Lebanon.

Israeli said, in originally announcing a 48-hour lull in air strikes, that the temporary cessation of aerial activity would allow the opening of corridors for 24 hours for Lebanese civilians who want to leave south Lebanon for the north and would maintain land, sea and air corridors for humanitarian assistance.

Israeli officials earlier left open the possibility that Israel might hit targets to stop imminent attacks on Israel, and that the suspension could last less than 48 hours if the military completes its inquiry into Sunday's incident in Qana before then.

A top Israeli official warns that the halt in air strikes from 2 a.m. Monday until 2 a.m. Wednesday should not be viewed as an end to the war.

"I'm convinced that we won't finish this war until it's clear that Hezbollah has no more abilities to attack Israel from south Lebanon. This is what we are striving for," Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon said early Monday, in an interview on Israeli Army Radio.

It is not yet known what was hit in Monday's air strikes in the Yanta area, where Syrian-backed Palestinian militants are believed to maintain bases in the mountains abutting the Syrian border.

The Israeli aerial suspension came hours after an Israeli airstrike killed at least 56 civilians, most of them women and children in the southern Lebanese town of Qana, sparking an international uproar and fueling demands for a cease-fire.

Shortly before the suspension, Israeli warplanes attacked for the second time in the last few days a road between Lebanon and Syria just outside the Lebanese border post at Masnaa, severing the main artery between the two capitals.

The Israeli military confirmed a highway attack near Syria, but said it knew of no others.

Sunday night's announcement of the pause in overflights appeared to reflect U.S. pressure on Israel.

Sunday's bloodshed in Qana prompted U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to cut short her Mideast mission and intensified world demands on Washington to back an immediate end to the fighting.

The attack in the village of Qana brought Lebanon's death toll to more than 510 and pushed American peace efforts to a crucial juncture, as fury at the United States flared in Lebanon. The Beirut government said it would no longer negotiate over a U.S. peace package without an unconditional cease-fire.

At an emergency meeting Sunday, Secretary General Kofi Annan was unusually frank, urging the council to do something, now, CBS News correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi reports. Annan criticized world leaders — implicitly Washington — for ignoring his previous calls for a stop.

In Qana, workers pulled dirt-covered bodies of young boys and girls — dressed in the shorts and T-shirts they had been sleeping in — out of the mangled wreckage of the three-story building. Bodies were carried in blankets.

Two extended families, the Shalhoubs and the Hashems, had gathered in the house for shelter from another night of Israeli bombardment in the border area when the 1 a.m. strike brought the building down.

"I was so afraid. There was dirt and rocks and I couldn't see. Everything was black," said 13-year-old Noor Hashem, who survived, although her five siblings did not. She was pulled out of the ruins by her uncle, whose wife and five children also died.

Those who survived the attack accused Israel of murder — or even genocide, CBS News correspondent Lee Cowan reports.

Israel expressed its sorrow over the damage, but blamed Heszbollah guerillas, saying they were using civilians as shields in order to fire rockets from the area across the border, Cowan reports.

Before Ereli's announcement, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the campaign to crush Hezbollah would continue, telling Rice it could last up to two weeks more.

"We will not stop this battle, despite the difficult incidents this morning," he told his Cabinet after the strike, according to a participant. "If necessary, it will be broadened without hesitation."

The Israeli army said early on that it did not know that there were civilians in the building at the time of the attack, reports CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan. Israel said it had warned civilians to stay away from the area.

In other developments:

  • The U.N. Security Council has adopted a statement expressing "extreme shock and distress," but not condemnation of Israel's bombing of civilians in Lebanon by Israeli defense forces. The presidential statement, approved unanimously by the 15-member council Sunday evening in an emergency session, amended stronger language in an earlier draft circulated by the U.N. spokespersons office, to say it "strongly deplores this loss of innocent life and the killing of civilians in the present conflict." The final document also said it "calls for an end to violence, and underscores the urgency of securing a lasting, permanent and sustainable ceasefire."
  • President Bush said America mourns the loss of any innocent life, following the deadly Israeli air strike in Lebanon. The president says the current situation in the Middle East is a reminder that all of us must work together to achieve a sustainable peace. Mr. Bush told reporters that he's spoken with Rice twice today, and also spoke with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
  • In Beirut, some 5,000 protesters gathered in downtown Beirut, at one point attacking a U.N. building and burning American flags, shouting, "Destroy Tel Aviv, destroy Tel Aviv" and chanting for Hezbollah's ally Syria to hit Israel. Another protest by about 50 people on a road leading to the U.S. Embassy forced security forces to close the road there. Cowan reports demonstrators attempted to set the U.N. building on fire, slightly injuring three U.N. workers in the process.
  • Palestinians in Gaza City also stormed a U.N. compound on Sunday during a protest against the Israeli airstrikes. Security officials fired their weapons into the air to disperse them, but the protesters smashed windows of the UNSCO building with rocks.
  • Israel on Sunday also launched its second significant ground incursion into southern Lebanon. Before dawn, Israeli forces backed by heavy artillery fire crossed the border and clashed with Hezbollah guerrillas in the Taibeh Project area, about two miles inside Lebanon. Hezbollah said two of its fighters were killed and claimed eight Israeli soldiers also died. The Israeli military said only that four soldiers were wounded when guerrillas hit a tank with a missile.
  • Hezbollah guerrillas hit an Israel tank with an anti-tank missile on Sunday, wounding four Israeli soldiers who were evacuated to Israel, the military said.
  • Israeli missiles struck near the main Lebanese border crossing into Syria on Saturday, forcing its closure for the first time in the 18-day-old conflict, police officials said. Israeli warplanes fired three missiles that landed at the Masnaa crossing, about 300 yards beyond a Lebanese customs post, the officials said. They said the area is considered to be part of Lebanese territory.
  • On the Lebanon-Israel border, an Israeli strike hit near a U.N. peacekeepers' station, wounding two. The world body had just relocated unarmed U.N. observers to the peacekeepers' posts for safety after four U.N. observers were killed on Tuesday.
  • At the U.N., Annan said the region is becoming impatient that the Security Council, the most powerful U.N. body, has yet to issue a meaningful response after three weeks of war in Lebanon.

    "Action is needed now before many more children, women and men become casualties of a conflict over which they have no control," Annan said.

    Attempts by Qatar, the only Arab nation on the council, to strengthen language in the statement prolonged discussions late into the evening before the statement was passed.

    But U.S. Ambassador John Bolton opposed any condemnation of the attack.

    Bolton repeated the American insistence that any statement must address what the U.S. says is the root cause of the conflict Hezbollah's continued grip on southern Lebanon and its attacks on Israel.

    "Our view for quite some time has been and remains that we need to work toward a permanent solution to the problems in the region and that obviously we are converging to try to find a way to reach that solution," Bolton said.

    In the three weeks since fighting began, the Security Council's only response has been a weak statement expressing shock and distress at Israel's bombing of a U.N. post on the Lebanon border Tuesday which killed four unarmed U.N. observers.

    Earlier, after news of the deaths emerged, Rice telephoned Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora and said she would stay in Jerusalem to continue work on a peace package, rather than make a planned Sunday visit to Beirut. Saniora said he told her not to come.

    Rice decided to cut her Mideast trip short and return to Washington on Monday morning.

    Blair, who only days earlier gave his support to the U.S. stance, struck a more urgent note Sunday, saying Washington must work faster to put together the broader deal it seeks.

    "We have to get this now. We have to speed this whole process up," Blair said. "This has got to stop and stop on both sides."

    But Saniora said talk of a larger peace package must wait until the firing stops.

    "We will not negotiate until the Israeli war stops shedding the blood of innocent people," he told a gathering of foreign diplomats. But he underlined that Lebanon stands by ideas for disarming Hezbollah that it put forward earlier this week and that Rice praised.

    He took a tough line and hinted that any Hezbollah response to the airstrike at the village of Qana was justified.

    "As long as the aggression continues there is response to be exercised," he said, praising Hezbollah's leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah.

    Hezbollah said on its Al-Manar television that it will retaliate.

    "The massacre at Qana will not go unanswered," the group said.

    In Qana, Khalil Shalhoub was helping pull out the dead until he saw his brother's body taken out on a stretcher. "Why are they killing us? What have we done?" he screamed.

    Israel said Hezbollah had fired more than 40 rockets from Qana before the airstrike, including several from near the building that was bombed. Foreign Ministry official Gideon Meir accused Hezbollah of "using their own civilian population as human shields."

    It said residents of the village had been warned to leave, but Shalhoub and others in Qana said residents were too terrified to take the road out of the village. The road to the nearest main city, Tyre, is lined with charred wreckage and smashed buildings from repeated Israeli bombings.

    More than 750,000 Lebanese have fled their homes because of the war. Many thousands more are still believed holed up in the south, taking refuge in schools, hospitals or basements of apartment buildings amid the fighting — many of them too afraid to flee on roads heavily hit by Israeli strikes.

    Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr disputed allegations that Hezbollah was firing missiles from Qana.

    "What do you expect Israel to say? Will it say that it killed 40 children and women?" he told Qatar-based al-Jazeera TV station.

    On Thursday, the Israeli military's Al-Mashriq radio that broadcasts into southern Lebanon warned residents that their villages would be "totally destroyed" if missiles were fired from them. Leaflets with similar messages were dropped in some areas Saturday.

    The U.N. World Food Program canceled an aid convoy's trip to the embattled south after the Israeli military denied safe passage, the group said in a statement. The six-truck convoy had been scheduled to bring relief supplies to Marjayoun.

    Many in the Arab world and Europe see the United States as holding the key to the conflict, believing that Israel would have to stop its offensive — sparked by Hezbollah's July 12 abduction of two Israeli soldiers — if its top ally Washington insisted it had to.

    The United States has balked at doing so, saying any cease-fire must ensure real and lasting peace.

    Rice had come to the Mideast with a peace package that would call for the disarming of Hezbollah, release of Israel's soldiers, deployment of a U.N.-mandated force in south Lebanon and the establishment of a buffer zone along the border.

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