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Israel Says 1500 Hezbollah Missiles Fired Accuses Iran Of Helping Abductions

An ambulance arrives at the scene as building burns after a Katyusha-style rocket slammed into it in the northern coastal town oh Nahariya 13 July 2006, fired from across the Israeli-Lebanese border by Hezbollah guerillas. Israel's Lebanon offensive drew staunch US backing today and a presidential rebuke for Syria, but also prompted concern here that spiraling conflict could consume Beirut's fragile democracy. Israel's actions, which killed 44 Lebanese civilians since yesterday, after the capture by Hezbollah of two of its soldiers, handed the George W. Bush administration a new foreign policy crisis, as it grapples with raging violence in Iraq, and nuclear and missile belligerence from Iran and North Korea. Photo courtesy of Yoav Lemmer and AFP.
by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Jul 18, 2006
Hezbollah has fired 1,500 missiles and rockets into Israel from southern Lebanon since it triggered the conflict last week, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres said on British television Tuesday.

"We should stop the shooting of missiles over our heads, over our villages and towns. They fired until now fifteen hundred missiles and rockets," Peres told Sky News.

"We are trying to control the roads (...) of Lebanon because all the 12,000 missiles and rockets that they have collected came from Iran and Syria," Peres said.

The veteran politician also said that Israel did not intend to send ground troops into Lebanon, as it has done several times in the last three decades.

"We're not going to penetrate Lebanon on the ground," Peres said.

He insisted that the Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hezbollah is an enemy of the Lebanese people acting independently from their national interests, and that Israel, by contrast, wanted good relations with the Lebanese.

"The only enemy they have is an army within an army called Hezbollah. Lebanon is not our enemy. We have nothing to ask from Lebanon, we have much to hope from Lebanon. We hope to live as good neighbors," he said.

"We didn't attack Lebanon, and we are not going to organize Lebanon, we are not going to play a role in their politics," he said.

Founded in 1982 in response to Israel's invasion of Lebanon, the Shiite Muslim group kidnapped two Israeli soldiers last Wednesday, triggering waves of Israeli bombing that have so far left more than 200 people dead and closed Beirut's airport.

Quoting Israeli intelligence sources, the London specialist magazine Jane's Defence Weekly said Hezbollah probably had a total of 10,000 to 15,000 rockets provided by Syria and Iran.

The estimates square with claims made by the militia's leader, Hassan Nasrallah on May 23, when he said Hezbollah held 12,000 rockets.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday accused Iran of helping coordinate Hezbollah's capture of two Israeli soldiers last week in a bid to distract attention from the contested Iranian nuclear programme.

"The moment for the abduction owed nothing to chance, it was determined with Iran to distract the attention of the international community from the Iranian nuclear programme," Olmert said, according to army radio.

"Unfortunately the manoeuvre succeeded and the whole world remembers the decision of the Group of Eight on Lebanon (at their summit in Saint Petersburg) while the Iranian nuclear issue was not examined," he said at a meeting for Israeli diplomats posted abroad.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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