Friday, August 04, 2006

Katyusha Barrage, Battles in Lebanon - Twelve Killed

by Hillel Fendel

Twelve Israelis were killed Thursday in the war with Hizbullah: four soldiers in the ground battles, and eight civilians in the terrorists' stepped-up Katyusha rocket attacks.

The news of the three separate incidents was broken all at once at approximately 4:30 PM. The army first released for publication that two soldiers had been killed in battles with Hizbullah in southern Lebanon in the course of the day. Later, it was announced that a third soldier died of his wounds at Rambam Hospital. Early hints of the news had been provided earlier with reports of "very heavy battles" in southern Lebanon. The death of the fourth soldier was announced shortly before midnight.

The families have been informed, but the identities of the fallen soldiers have not yet been released for publication, pending notification of all close relatives.

The news was released just as a wave of Katyusha rockets hit the city of Acco (Acre), north of Haifa, 20 kilometers south of the Lebanese border along the Mediterranean coast. It was first reported that one person had been seriously injured, then that he and a fellow passenger in his car were killed, and then that the number of dead had risen to three and then four. Two other people were reported injured by the fatal blast.

Minutes later, it was learned that three other people had been killed in a similar Katyusha strike in the Israeli-Arab neighborhood of Tarshiha, near Maalot, some 20 kilometers to the northeast. The three dead in Ma'alot Tarshiha were Shnati Shnati, Amir Naim and Muhammed Faor, all of them age 18.

Two of the victims in the Acco attack, father and daughter Shimon and Mazal Zribi, were reportedly in a shelter when they heard a Katyusha fall; they went out to see what happened, and were killed by a follow-up rocket. Also killed was 41-year-old Albert Ben Abu. The IDF Homefront Command continues to remind citizens to remain in their shelters when the sirens sound, and to remain there for at least 15 minutes.

The barrage of close to 100 Katyushas followed a relatively quiet morning and early afternoon, in which a total of 30 rockets had been fired. The most recent wave hit various towns in northern Israel, with sirens sounding in Haifa, Kiryat Shmonah, Nahariya, Shlomi and as far south as Afula. Ten people were lightly wounded when a rocket hit a building in the Druze village of Merar, while no one was hurt in a direct hit on four buildings in Kiryat Shmonah, nor in similar hits in Tzfat. One person was lightly wounded by shrapnel in Tiberias, and several people were treated for shock in several different locations.

The number of dead in the war with Hizbullah now stands at 68, including 28 civilians and 40 soldiers. Among the civilians killed by the Moslem-fired Katyushas were at least 8 Arabs.