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11 Bloody Days, No End in Sight

July 23, 2006|Times staff writers

The current fighting in Lebanon began July 12, and at least 360 Lebanese and 36 Israelis have died.

Here is a recap of major events so far:

July 12

Fighters with Hezbollah, the Shiite Islamic militia that controls much of south Lebanon, cross the border and attack an Israeli patrol, killing three soldiers and capturing two. Israeli troops pursuing the captors into Lebanon are ambushed, and five more are killed. Israel begins bombing targets in Lebanon, starting with roads and bridges leading out of the border region. Hezbollah chief Sheik Hassan Nasrallah holds a news conference in Beirut and vows that the Israeli soldiers "won't be returned to their homes except through one way: indirect negotiations and a swap" for an unspecified number of Arab prisoners.

July 13

Israel widens its campaign, bombing the runways at Beirut's airport, blockading the coast and repeatedly hitting areas in south Beirut where Hezbollah has its headquarters. Airstrikes reportedly kill more than 50 in Lebanon. Hezbollah fires more than 100 Katyusha rockets into northern Israel, killing two people and wounding dozens. At least one rocket hits the coastal city of Haifa. The chief of staff of Israel's army, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, warns that "nothing is safe" in Lebanon. President Bush says that the U.S. is "concerned about the fragile democracy in Lebanon" but that Israel has a "right to defend herself." Saudi Arabia issues a statement condemning certain "elements" -- a reference to Hezbollah -- for "irresponsible acts" and saying those elements "should alone shoulder the burden of ending the crisis."

July 14

Nasrallah declares "open war" on Israel shortly after Israeli planes bomb the building in south Beirut where he lives and Hezbollah is headquartered. Hezbollah fires an Iranian radar-guided C-802 missile at an Israeli warship off the Beirut coast, crippling the ship and killing four sailors. The main highway from Beirut to Damascus, Syria, is closed, cutting off the last major supply route into Lebanon. The death toll reaches at least 73 in Lebanon, with about 200 wounded. In Israel, a woman and her 5-year-old grandson are killed by Hezbollah rockets. "We intend to break this organization," Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz says of Hezbollah.

July 15

Israeli airstrikes hit central Beirut for the first time, as well as targets as far north as Tripoli and east into the Bekaa Valley along the Syrian border. Hezbollah rockets hit the Israeli city of Tiberias, with about 90 rockets landing across northern Israel. Tens of thousands of Israelis flee to the south. Lebanese officials say that more than 100 have been killed and that except for two Hezbollah casualties, virtually all of the dead are civilians. On the Israeli side, 16 have been killed, including 12 military personnel. Several European countries begin evacuating their citizens from Lebanon. Fouad Siniora, Lebanon's prime minister, pleads for a cease-fire, saying, "Destruction is raining down around the clock." Bush says, "The best way to stop the violence is for Hezbollah to lay down its arms." Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo cannot agree on a policy.

July 16

Eight Israelis are killed by a barrage of rockets in Haifa, bringing the Israeli death toll to 24. The attack in Haifa also injures at least 38. Nasrallah, in a televised speech, says Israel is "ignorant of what we have at all levels" and dares Israelis to fight on the ground. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says the attacks on Haifa will lead to "far-reaching consequences." U.S. officials begin helicopter evacuations of some Americans in Beirut. The leaders of major industrialized nations, who are meeting in Russia, split over a French call for an immediate cease-fire, with the U.S. opposed. The group issues a statement calling for Hezbollah to halt attacks and for Israel to exercise "utmost restraint." The death toll in Lebanon exceeds 140.

July 17

Britain and the United Nations call for an international peacekeeping force to be sent to south Lebanon. Olmert tells Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi that Israel would insist in any truce that Hezbollah forces withdraw about 20 miles from the frontier but would not demand that the group be dismantled. The death toll in Lebanon passes 200, and Hezbollah rockets reach deeper into Israel. At the G-8 summit in Russia, an open microphone catches Bush in an unscripted moment telling British Prime Minister Tony Blair: "What they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit, and it's over." Syrian officials say more than 100,000 people have arrived from Lebanon seeking refuge.

July 18

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