Israel lobbed missiles at targets across Lebanon early Monday, killing nine and wounding 33 in a surge of reprisals after Hizbullah rockets slammed into new targets deep inside Israel.
Three of the dead were Lebanese soldiers who were killed when aircraft attacked a small fishing port at Abdeh in northernmost Lebanon. Witnesses and media reported said seven other soldiers were unaccounted for after the early Monday attack and crews were looking for them in the rubble of their position in the darkness. There was no immediate comment from the military.
In addition to air strikes, the IDF began firing shells along the Israel-Lebanon border Monday morning. The shelling was aimed at hitting Katyusha rocket launching sites in south Lebanon.
Gunboats apparently aiming at a relay station for Hizbullah's al-Manar television missed their target and hit a house in the Kharroub region south of Beirut. Police said four villagers were killed and 10 wounded.
Israeli warplanes staged successive air strikes, targeting neighborhoods in the eastern city of Baalbeck where Hizbullah officials have residences. Police had no casualty count. Residents reported that the bombardment, up to 12 missiles in six air raids, was the heaviest on the city, famous for its Roman ruins. The missiles started several fires and kicked up black smoke.
Along the Beirut-Damascus highway at Taanayel in the central section of the Bekaa Valley in the east, an air raid killed two people and wounded 23 at a commercial compound, police said.
Warplanes also struck at the seaport in Tripoli, Lebanon's second-largest city in the northernmost part of the country.
Earlier, an Israeli warplane blasted the vicinity of Beirut's airport with four missiles Sunday, setting a fuel storage tank ablaze, security officials said.
Sunday's bombardment was the fourth time Israel hit the Rafik Hariri International Airport located on the southern edge of the capital since Wednesday when it began its strikes on Lebanon.
IDF strikes in Beirut (Photo: AP)
The latest attack was the second time Israeli air raids ignited a fire in the airport's fuel storage tanks. On Friday, Israeli warplanes, in one of two attacks that day, blasted a runway igniting a fire in several fuel storage tanks.
The airport has been closed since Wednesday, when Israeli aircraft fired missiles at its three runways, forcing the facility to shut down.
After nightfall, the pounding by warplanes and gunboats ramped up heavily. Waves of missiles hit Tripoli, Lebanon's second largest city and a major northern port, and the port cities of Sidon and Tyre in the south - as well as Hezbollah strongholds in the eastern Lebanon town of Baalbeck.
The Lebanese media reported that the IAF carried out three strikes in the town of Baalbeck in the northern Lebanon valley Sunday night. In addition, the NTV news channel reported that IDF warplanes struck two UNIFIL outposts in Southern Lebanon, and that an Indian soldier was injured in the attack.
The IDF stated that the strike was aimed against a Hizbullah post located near the UNIFIL position, and that the UN troops, as well as the population in the area, have been asked to evacuate the place.
Earlier a Lebanon military official reported that three soldiers have been injured in an Israeli air strike against targets in Sidon.
The source said the Israeli air force targeted a water reservoir near a Lebanese army base, a bridge and a petrol station south of Sidon port.
The Lebanese police reported four Lebanese civilians were killed by fire from Israeli gunboats on a hilly village overlooking the Mediterranean south of Beirut.
'We've only used fraction of capabilities'
Israel Air Force chief Elyezer Shkedy briefed the press on the army’s latest activities. He warned Hizbullah that Israel's military campaign in Lebanon is but a small fraction of its full capability.
"The whole campaign until now represents only a small fraction of the air force and the IDF's capabilities," Shkedy said.
He threatened Hizbullah: "The decision of what to do and with which intensity is reserved to the government of Israel and I suggest the other side think about the alternatives the Israeli air force possesses."
IAF takes out 5 rocket launchers
On Sunday the Israeli Air Force hit five long-range rocket launchers in Lebanon, a senior Air Force commander revealed Sunday afternoon.
“Every strike on rocket launchers damages Hizbullah's firing ability, as the group has limited quantities of the weapon,” he said.
The air force commander counted over 1,000 jet sorties over Lebanon, and over 350 helicopter gunship sorties. “The results of these operational activities were good, the hits precise, on infrastructures and other targets, which will have lasting effect on terror organizations.”
Hagai Einav, Moran Zelikovich and Hanan Greenberg contributed to the report