In a spiraling cycle of violence in Israel's north, nine
Lebanese were killed when Israel bombed power stations and
bridges near Beirut in an operation that began June 25. The
Israeli air assault came in response to Hizbullah rocket
attacks that day which killed two residents in northern
Israel and wounded at least 12, one seriously.
The attacks marked the heaviest cross-border violence since a
cease-fire in 1996 ended Operation Grapes of Wrath, Israel's
16-day campaign in Lebanon against Hizbullah.
The fighting was halted last Friday morning after U.S.
officials conveyed a message from Israel to Syria that
hostilities would escalate if Damascus did not rein in
Hizbullah, Israeli security officials said.
The violence came against the backdrop of tentative overtures
between Israel and Syria prompted by the May victory of Prime
Minister-elect Ehud Barak, who pledged during the election
campaign to pull Israeli troops out of southern Lebanon and
pursue a peace agreement with Damascus.
Far from being left out of the loop, Barak gave his tacit
approval to the raids, the Israeli daily Ha'aretz
Property damage was estimated at millions of dollars --
excluding related economic losses, such as the negative
impact on local tourism.