It comes as the Israeli military also confirmed that two of its soldiers were killed in battles in Beit Jbeil, in Lebanon’s south, during clashes with Hezbollah fighters.
In the latest attack, a family of seven, including at least two children, were killed in an Israeli bombardment on southern Lebanon early Tuesday, police quoted by AFP said.
Afterwards, Israeli forces took up positions on hilltops overlooking Hezbollah’s military headquarters in Bint Jbeil after the army said it had taken control of the Lebanese border town.
“Beit Jbeil is in our hands,” General Alon Friedman, one of Israel’s top commanders for its northern region, told Israeli army radio, as the conflict entered its 14th day.
Beit Jbeil lies north of the strategic hilltop village of Marun al-Ras, which the Israeli army captured at the weekend.
Earlier, north of the besieged Lebanese city of Tyre, two brothers, aged 9 and 11, and their uncle were killed in their home as the Israeli offensive continued for the 13th day.
Israeli jets blew apart three adjacent buildings in six raids. Residents have said several people were buried in the debris and another resident was killed in a dawn attack on the same village.
Lebanese medical officials said two other civilians were killed when their house south of Tyre was destroyed.
Nearby an attack on a Palestinian refugee camp at Rashidiyeh killed one of the inhabitants and wounded five others including a baby in pre-dawn attacks, medical sources said.
In Baalbek, a Hezbollah stronghold in eastern Lebanon, the body of the policeman was recovered from under the broken bricks of buildings in a quarter repeatedly targeted by Israeli firepower. He had apparently been killed days before.
Hezbollah said in a statement that three more of its fighters were killed bringing the number of losses it has taken to 19.
Of the total 381 people killed in Lebanon since hostilities began nearly two weeks ago, 334 were civilians and 27 were Lebanese soldiers and police.
Another 800 civilians and 81 soldiers and policemen have been wounded.
Hezbollah says it has lost 19 of its fighters, plus one from the allied Amal militia, while an estimated 800,000 civilians have been displaced by the conflict.
Attacks on Israel
In the latest attacks on Israel, Lebanese guerrillas fired more than a dozen rockets toward the Israeli port city of Haifa.
Israeli media reported several people were injured.
Two rockets hit near Haifa’s Rambam Hospital, witnesses said.
Earlier, an Israeli military spokesman said that two Israeli soldiers died during “intense exchanges of fire” with Shiite militiamen near Bint Jbeil in southern Lebanon.
The deaths now bring the toll of Israelis killed since the crisis erupted to 41, with servicemen making up 24 of that number.
Seventeen Israeli civilians have been killed by Hezbollah rocket attacks on towns and cities in the north of the country.
The outbreak of violence was sparked on July 12 after Hezbollah militants captured two Israeli soldiers and killed eight others in cross-border attacks.
The spokesman added that 14 other soldiers were wounded, two of them seriously, during the clashes on Monday, six of these were reportedly hit by friendly fire.
Helicopter crash kills two
Two Israeli servicemen were killed in northern Israel after their Apache attack helicopter crashed near the border with Lebanon, an Israeli military spokeswoman said.
She said the helicopter did not crash after hitting power lines, as reported by security sources earlier.
“It hit the electricity power lines as it was going down,” she said, adding that an inquiry would be held into the cause of the crash.
The helicopter came down near the kibbutz of Yiron, several kilometers south of the Lebanese border.
Hezbollah said it had shot down an Israeli helicopter near Lebanon’s southern border, the group’s Al-Manar television reported.
The Israeli spokeswoman said the inquiry would establish what had happened and that “nothing can be ruled out, including rocket fire from Lebanon” hitting the machine.
But she added that no firing from Lebanon had been reported at the time of the crash, which may have been caused by “a technical fault or human error”.
It follows an incident on Friday when an Israeli officer was killed after two helicopter gunships collided over Israeli territory near the Lebanese border.
Gaza offensive continues
Israeli shells have killed five people and wounded several others in the Gaza Strip, including a 60-year-old woman and her 12-year-old grandson riding a donkey cart.
Two were civilians and an off-duty police officer also died as they stood outside an apartment block in the northern Gaza neighbourhood of Beit Lahiya, where militants frequently fire rockets at Israel.
Meanwhile residents in the Gaza Strip claim seven people have been wounded in an Israeli air strike aimed at the home of a suspected militant.
The army had called the house to tell occupants they had half an hour to get out and the injured were from surrounding homes.
The army said the strike was aimed at a building where munitions belonging to the Islamic Jihad militant group were produced and stored.
But the home owner Omar al-Mamlouk isn’t known to have any link with militants and denies anyone in the three-storey house belonged to a militant faction.
Later, Palestinian medical sources and the Israeli military said eight Palestinians were wounded in Israeli air strikes on three houses in the Gaza Strip suspected of holding rockets.
Also today, a 29-year-old Palestinian died of wounds sustained last week during an Israeli ground operation in the Maghazi refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on July 20.
Israel has killed about 120 Palestinians in a nearly month-long offensive in Gaza to force militants to release a captured soldier and halt rocket fire on Israeli cities.
Germany has said it’s hopeful for progress on the release of abducted Corporal Gilad Shalit after its foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, visited the region.
UN relief chief Jan Egeland has launched a scathing attack on Hezbollah, branding the Shiite militants cowards for boasting that Lebanese civilians are enduring the Israeli bombardments.
“Some believe I spoke only about excessive use of force by Israel there (in Beirut),” he said in Cyprus after arriving from Lebanon en route to Israel.
“However, consistently from Hezbollah heartlands my message was: ‘Hezbollah — stop this cowardly blending in among women and children’.
“I heard there was a statement they were proud they had lost very few fighters, and that it was the civilians bearing the brunt of this. I don’t think you want to be proud of having many more children and women than armed men (killed),” Egeland said.
Mr Egeland repeated that the devastation caused by the Israeli bombardment of Beirut was “truly horrific”, and said he was “surprised” after seeing the level of destruction first-hand.
Cluster bombs claim
Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of using artillery-fired cluster bombs that disperse after impact in populated areas of Lebanon.
The human rights organisation’s researchers said cluster munitions were used in an attack on the village of Blida in southern Lebanon on July 19, killing one and wounding at least 12 civilians, including seven children.
Human Rights Watch said its researchers also photographed cluster munitions in the arsenal of Israeli artillery teams on the Israel-Lebanon border.
Meanwhile Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has warned Israel’s assault on Lebanon will derail efforts to stabilise Iraq and threatens to bolster Islamist militants across the Middle East.
“What is going on in Lebanon will be a great push to fundamentalism … This will increase terrorism and extremism,” Mr al-Maliki said.