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Israel's bombs cut off Beirut

Lahoud: Israel 'starving' Lebanon; AP: 57 buried in rubble in south

Relatives mourn the death of a Lebanese man killed Friday during an Israeli strike on the Halat bridge.


Middle East

BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- After bombing the last land routes into Beirut, and effectively cutting off the Lebanese capital from relief supplies, Israel issued a statement saying the attacks were designed to thwart Syrian attempts to arm Hezbollah.

The airstrikes continued early Saturday in Beirut and in Tyre, to the south. Jets and at least two Apache attack helicopters were seen firing cannons and launching missiles in Tyre. In Beirut, at least six explosions were heard in the southern suburbs.

The attacks followed airstrikes Friday that closed main roadways and four key bridges into Beirut from the north. It was the first time the Israel Defense Forces has hit the area north of the capital during the 24-day conflict.

"Syria is determined to continue rearming Hezbollah and supply it with weaponry used to attack Israel," said an IDF statement. "The IDF is determined to stop this flow of arms to Hezbollah. The attacks on the bridge last night, which connect Syria and Lebanon, were to this end." (Watch how Israeli bombs shredded roads and bridges -- 1:04)

Syria has repeatedly denied supplying weapons to Hezbollah. "Hezbollah does not need any logistic support from Syria," Syria's ambassador to the United States, Imad Moustapha, said Friday on Fox News.

Moustapha also alleged that Israel had bombed the roads to close escape routes to Lebanese civilians seeking "safe haven."

Meanwhile, Lebanese President Emile Lahoud accused Israel of "starving" his country, and Christiane Berthiaume of the World Food Program told The Associated Press that Israel had cut "Lebanon's umbilical cord."

"This [road] has been the only way for us to bring in aid. We really need to find other ways to bring relief in," Berthiaume told the AP.

The bridge attacks left three people dead and one missing, according to the Lebanese Red Cross.

Traffic was paralyzed around the capital, as Lebanese Internal Security Forces closed even the unscathed roads to traffic, fearing new strikes, the Lebanese Broadcasting Corp. reported. (See photos of a Beirut neighborhood before and after Israeli airstrikes)

At sea, there were more problems with delivering supplies, according to a Lebanese official who said Israel was blocking two fuel tankers in the Mediterranean from docking in Lebanon.

The IDF denied the report, and Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman said Israel is working with the U.N. to keep supplies flowing into Lebanon. (Full story)

Lahoud did not concur and told the AP that Israel is trying to strong-arm Lebanon into accepting its terms for a cease-fire.

Carnage on both sides

Across Lebanon, dozens died in Israeli attacks, as Hezbollah rockets struck Hadera, the southernmost point the Islamic militia has reached with its attacks thus far in the conflict. No injuries were reported, police said.

Hadera is about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Tel Aviv, which Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened Thursday to strike in retaliation for Israeli attacks on Beirut.

The IDF said the two or three rockets were among more than 200 that landed across northern Israel on Friday. The most deadly attack came in Tiberias, where three civilians were killed. (Watch medics tend the bloodied wounded -- 1:39)

On the Lebanese side of the border, AP quoted Lebanese security officials as saying that Israeli airstrikes buried 57 people under rubble after flattening homes in two villages near the Israeli border, Taibeh and Aita al-Shaab. No other details were immediately available.

Earlier Friday, the IDF struck a farm in Qaa, killing about 25 workers, Lebanese sources said. A hospital official and the mayor said all the casualties were Syrian workers, and security forces said most of the casualties were employees or truck drivers.

Qaa is in the Bekaa Valley, a few kilometers from the Syrian border.

The IDF said it targeted two buildings that contained weapons. The Israeli government has accused Hezbollah of using civilians as shields. But Human Rights Watch, in a report released Thursday after investigating dozens of civilian deaths, concluded the opposite.

"In none of the cases of civilian deaths documented in this report is there evidence to suggest that Hezbollah forces or weapons were in or near the area that the IDF targeted during or just prior to the attack," the rights group said.

As of Friday, 675 Lebanese civilians and soldiers have died in the conflict, and 2,327 have been wounded, according to Lebanon's Internal Security Forces.

The IDF put the Israeli death toll at 74, including 30 civilians. Israeli authorities say more than 600 people have been injured. ( Watch rockets rain death on Israel -- 2:30 )

Still no cease-fire

As the death toll continued to rise, the United States and France were making headway on a U.N. Security Council draft resolution that could be come to a vote early next week, State Department officials and diplomatic sources said.

Despite calls from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and many nations, the United States has not publicly endorsed an immediate cessation of hostilities.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States has not opposed a cease-fire but has opposed any agreement that "falls apart practically the minute it's in place" and would then result in a return "to the status quo ante."

The resolution would call for a cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah and deployment of a rapid-reaction force in southern Lebanon until a larger peacekeeping operation could be organized, said diplomatic sources familiar with the plan.

U.S. and French diplomats are still hammering out details, including whether Israeli forces would remain in Lebanon after a cessation of hostilities, an exchange of prisoners, and the creation of a political framework to make sure the cease-fire lasts, U.S. and diplomatic sources said.

CNN's Elise Labott, Richard Roth, Suzanne Malveaux, Brent Sadler, Matthew Chance, Michael Ware and John Vause contributed to this report.

Copyright 2006 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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