Sun, Jul 23, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Israel targets Lebanese television towers

COMMUNICATION LINKS Fighter jets took out TV and radio transmission towers at sites across Lebanon as Israeli forces intensified attacks on the country's infrastructure

AGENCIES , BEIRUT AND JERUSALEM

Israeli warplanes hit TV transmission towers yesterday in Lebanon, knocking the nation's leading private network off the air and cutting phone links to some regions.

Fighter bombers fired missiles at transmission stations in the central and northern Lebanese mountains, leaving antennas burning on the ground.

Three missiles hit a transmission station at Fatqa in the Keserwan mountains. Another airstrike crippled a transmission tower at Terbol in northern Lebanon, where relay stations for the Lebanese Broadcasting Corp, Future TV and Hezbollah's al-Manar are located.

The three stations could no longer be seen in parts of the country although their satellite feed was unaffected. The Lebanese Broadcasting Corp is the nation's leading private network.

Hezbollah TV has been targeted previously, during the hostilities that erupted on July 12. It went off the air for less than 10 minutes during the pounding.

The transmission of Radio Free Lebanon, a private station, was also disrupted when airstrikes hit a tower on a mountaintop in Sannine that was also used by the Lebanese Broadcasting Corp.

Israeli warplanes targeting a truck hit a Christian suburb of Beirut earlier this week, but yesterday's attack was the first major airstrike in the Christian area.

Israeli forces urged residents of around 10 villages in southern Lebanon to leave by 6pm yesterday ahead of planned air strikes against suspected Hezbollah guerrillas, military sources said.

"In tackling the terrorists, we have two choices -- either to send in troops or to bomb their infrastructure from the air. Clearly the latter is preferable, but we want to give the civilians time to leave," a military source said.

Israel also opened a maritime and air corridor to allow humanitarian aid shipments into Lebanon, the head of the Israeli army coordination office said yesterday.

"We have authorized a 50-mile-long and five-mile-wide [80km by 8km) safe passage to the Beirut port for ships and aircraft," Major Asahel Avraham said, apparently referring to helicopters.

"We have announced that any nations that wished to support the humanitarian aid efforts for Lebanon could do so in coordination with us," Avraham said.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah guerrillas fired at an Israeli military base near the Lebanese border yesterday, wounding one soldier, the military said.

The attack occurred at the Nurit army base near the Israeli town of Avivim, a spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces said.

Military sources said the attack apparently involved sniper fire from guerrillas on the Lebanese side of the border.

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