Hezbollah guerrillas pounded towns across northern Israel with an enormous barrage of rockets yesterday afternoon, killing 10 people and wounding 14 others in the worst rocket attack on Israel since violence began on July 12.
All the fatalities were caused by one of the rockets, which landed near the entrance to the communal farm of Kfar Giladi on the border. Channel Two television reported that nine reserve soldiers were among the dead and television footage showed a soldier holding his head in grief.
The attack was "a direct hit on a vehicle where there was a crowd. They were all wounded and scattered in every direction, some of them were in very bad condition," said Eli Peretz of the Magen David Adom rescue service. "It was a very, very difficult scene. I have never seen anything like it."
The deadly attack in northern Israel came hours after the US and France agreed on the framework for a UN Security Council resolution that seeks a full halt to the fighting in Lebanon.
Lebanon rejected the draft Security Council resolution because it would allow Israeli forces to remain on Lebanese soil, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said yesterday.
Slamming the French-US draft as biased, Berri said it ignored a seven-point plan presented by Lebanon that calls for an immediate ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli forces and the return of all displaced civilians among other things.
"Lebanon, and all of Lebanon, rejects any resolution that is outside these seven points," said Berri, who has been negotiating on behalf of Hezbollah guerrillas.
"Their resolution will either drop Lebanon into internal strife or will be impossible to implement," he told a news conference.
The draft resolution, which the Security Council is expected to vote on either today or tomorrow, calls for a "full cessation of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations."
Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon said, who is close to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said yesterday that the draft resolution was good for Israel, but that it still had military goals to meet in Lebanon.
"Even if it is passed, it is doubtful that Hezbollah will honor the resolution and halt its fire," Ramon told Israel's Army Radio. "Therefore we have to continue fighting, continue hitting anyone we can hit in Hezbollah, and I assume that as long as that goes on, Israel's position, diplomatically and militarily, will improve," Ramon said.
The Israeli army announced yesterday that it had arrested one of the Hezbollah guerrillas involved in the initial raid during which two Israeli soldiers were captured.
At least 660 people have been reported killed in the violence so far. Hezbollah has said that 50 of its fighters were killed, but Israeli security officials told the Cabinet yesterday they had confirmed the deaths of 165 Hezbollah fighters -- and even had their names -- and estimated that another 200 had been killed, according to a participant in the meeting.
At the site of the Hezbollah missile attack in Kfar Giladi, convoys of police, military and rescue vehicles raced through the kibbutz.
Of the 14 wounded, four were in serious condition, rescue officials said.