Israeli Forces Push Further into Lebanon; Rice Makes Surprise Visit to Beirut

Israeli ground forces moved further into southern Lebanon Monday, focusing on the town of Bint Jbail, taking control of part of the Hezbollah stronghold.

At least 20 Israeli soldiers were injured in the offensive, and Arab television networks reported that two had died in the attacks. The town holds symbolic significance for Hezbollah as it was nicknamed “the capital of the resistance” during the years when Israel occupied what is now southern Lebanon.

In Haifa, Israel, two Israelis were killed when Hezbollah militants fired upon the port city. Fifteen civilians were injured in the attack, according to The New York Times.

As of Monday morning, at least 384 people had been killed in Lebanon in the 13 days of fighting, according to the Associated Press. Israeli officials believe they have killed around 100 Hezbollah fighters. Thirty-seven Israelis have died in the two-week struggle, 20 of whom were Israeli soldiers. The World Health Organization reported that at least 600,000 Lebanese have evacuated their homes.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a surprise visit to Beirut, Lebanon on Monday. According to the AP, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora told Rice that his government wanted to “put an end to the war being inflicted on Lebanon.”

“Thank you for your courage and steadfastness,” Rice told Saniora before heading to Israel.

Later Monday, President Bush ordered humanitarian helicopters and ships to Lebanon to provide medical supplies and other necessities for civilians affected by the attacks. Press secretary Tony Snow said of the order, “It is a move that is designed in recognition of the fact that innocent men, women and children are being hurt.”

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