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Fighting in Lebanon Escalates; Hezbollah Declares ‘Open War’

As Israel continued attacks against Lebanon's infrastructure and militant strongholds, Hezbollah declared "open war," intensifying rocket attacks against Israeli cities in the north. Experts analyze Hezbollah's history and motives in the current conflict.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Our Middle East coverage starts with reports from Lebanon and Israel, beginning with Tim Ewart of Independent Television News in Beirut.

  • TIM EWART, ITV News Correspondent:

    The international airport was bombed for the second time, dispelling any remaining hope that it might soon be reopened.

    Well, this is the area of southern Beirut, which is the focus for Israeli attacks at the moment. This is where the Israelis believe Hezbollah had their stronghold and where leaders of Hezbollah are still in hiding.

    The Israelis targeted buildings they said housed Hezbollah offices and flats, but there is much collateral damage in a crowded area that is home to thousands of Lebanese. At the local hospital, the injured from the raid included people were already patients, cut by flying glass as they lay in bed.

    Well, this is the price that the ordinary people of Lebanon are paying for the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. Every time a bridge is hit, a road destroyed, a power station taken out, their lives become just a little bit more difficult, a little bit more miserable.

  • LEBANESE CITIZEN:

    You can't even go to work. You can't even go out to your house or to your family.

  • TIM EWART:

    Further south, in the area they consider Hezbollah heartland, Israeli jets kept up a steady bombardment. More than 60 people have now been killed in operations like this, and Lebanon's infrastructure, its network of roads and bridges, is slowly being dismantled from the air.

    Government ministers are increasingly alarmed about the time repairs will take.

  • AHMED FATFAT, Interior Minister, Lebanon:

    If it could stop here where it is now, it will be feasible in one year. But if it continues, like it seems to be, it will so (inaudible) for us.

  • TIM EWART:

    Many of those who can afford to and have somewhere to go are leaving Lebanon, packing their bags and heading for the border.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    And to a report from the other side of the Lebanon-Israel border. It comes from the town of Nahariya. The reporter is ITN special correspondent Inigo Gilmore.

  • INIGO GILMORE, ITV News Special Correspondent:

    The once-bustling streets of Nahariya are deserted, shops shutted, boarded up in haste, as residents fled the city. And this is why they're leaving.

    Out of nowhere, three more Katyushas suddenly came crashing into the center of the city. As the smoke cleared, we discovered one Katyusha missile had landed just a couple of blocks away.

    The city's tenuous sense of security has been shattered here. Talk of vengeance is focused on one man: Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah.

  • ISRAELI CITIZEN:

    Nasrallah, we're going to kill you. Your head was attached to your body too much. You're like a mosquito; we're not afraid of you.

  • INIGO GILMORE:

    For all of the bravado though, some clearly are afraid, and for good reason, too. On the other side of Nahariya, another Katyusha had landed in Kibbutz Sa'ar. No casualties this time, but perhaps little wonder. The community had already been evacuated.

    Avi Hever is one of just four who chose to stay behind, when nearly 400 residents left after the first missiles landed in Nahariya.

  • AVI HEVER, Kibbutz Resident:

    I was watching TV. And then I heard the bombs. I went into a safe place, between two walls, actually. Then, the house was shaking all over. And now it's OK. Now it's quiet again.

  • INIGO GILMORE:

    He has sent his wife and two children to family in Tel Aviv.