NABATIYEH, Lebanon, AP – Israeli troops sealed off a Hezbollah stronghold in fierce fighting in south Lebanon and warplanes struck a market city Tuesday, killing six people. Guerrillas fired rockets at northern Israel, killing a girl, as the two-week-old crisis showed no signs of letting up, despite frantic diplomatic efforts. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel has the stamina for “a long struggle” and is determined to defeat Hezbollah.
German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung said a cease-fire must be in place before any international troops can be sent to Lebanon. Israel has suggested it would accept an international force — preferably from NATO — to ensure the peace in southern Lebanon, but Jung said after meeting his French and Polish counterparts that it was too early to say if the alliance, or a European Union force, could be put in place.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in Israel on the second leg of a Middle East tour, maintained the Bush administration’s position that a cease-fire must come with conditions that make an enduring peace, saying the time has come for an urgent end to the violence hanging over the region.