Last night Israeli forces struck fuel tanks at the airport which continue to burn.
Israeli planes also struck at the heart of Hezbollah’s power base in Beirut, a day after attacks which left about 50 people dead and ignited fears of a regional war.
A bridge and a power station also came under attack in the operation the Israeli military has called “Just Reward.”
“War Comes Back to Lebanon,” was the stark headline in the English-language Daily Star newspaper.
But while much of the world is urging restraint, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ordered the army to intensify the offensive after a barrage of rockets hit towns in northern Israel, killing two people and wounding 50.
An Israeli minister has also threatened to eliminate Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, whom several Israeli newspapers likened to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. “Nasrallah decided his own fate,” Interior Minister Roni Bar-On said. “We will settle our accounts with him when the time comes.”
Washington said Israel, its closest Middle East ally, had the right to defend itself but urged restraint. Several European powers openly criticised the scale of the Israeli offensive as disproportionate.
The United Nations and the European Union are urgently dispatching their envoys to the region, in an attempt to defuse the escalating crisis. The UN Security Council is due to meet on Friday, while the Arab foreign ministers will gather on Saturday.
UN chief Kofi Annan’s personal representative to Lebanon, Gier Pederson, said he was “highly alarmed by Israel’s heavy attacks and escalation” while Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas warned of the risk of “regional war.”
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin says all sides must quickly end the conflict.
Israel has blamed Syria and Iran, saying its two arch-foes formed an “axis of terror” along with Hezbollah and Palestinian militant group Hamas, the target of its offensive in the Gaza Strip. US President George W Bush has also blamed Syria for the conflict, saying it should be held accountable for escalation of violence.
But it is Lebanon being struck by Israel, and in a sign the assault is far from over Prime Minister Olmert authorised the Israeli army “to press on with its operation and hit more targets.”
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, warned that Israel would receive a “stinging response” from the Islamic world if it committed any aggression against Syria.
The European Union has warned the Israeli offensive may draw Syria into the conflict, “We consider the situation to be very bad and there is the continuing possibility that it could worsen; that the conflict could expand, especially to Syria,” said Foreign Minister Erkki
Tuomioja of Finland, whose country now holds the EU presidency.
“This is in no way desirable, and the consequences could be truly uncontrollable,” he told reporters.