Hezbollah Denies Firing Rockets at Haifa
Associated Press | July 13, 2006
NAHARIYA, Israel (AP) - At least one Katyusha rocket hit the northern city of Haifa on Thursday, but no one was injured, Israeli authorities said. Hezbollah denied it had fired any rockets at the port city.
Residents were told to stay near bomb shelters in case of more attacks.
Any attack on the city of 270,000 people about 30 miles from the border was certain to invite a harsh response from Israel, which was already pounding Lebanon following the capture of two soldiers.
``Those who fire into such a densely populated area will pay a heavy price,'' said David Baker, an official in the Israeli prime minister's office.
Hezbollah deputy leader Sheik Naim Kassem denied in an telephone interview with Al-Jazeera that his group fired any rockets at Haifa, adding this will happen if ``Beirut or its southern suburbs are attacked.''
Israeli army and police said the rocket hit the Haifa neighborhood of Stella Maris, an area popular with Christian tourists that is filled with restaurants, a monastery and a church.
The Israeli ambassador to the United States, Daniel Ayalon, said the attack on Haifa was ``a major, major escalation'' in the conflict.
``They have more than 10,000 rockets. For them to do this, in Haifa is a major escalation,'' Ayalon said at a news conference at the National Press Club.
Asked if Israel was at war, Ayalon said yes.
``The objective is to win this war,'' he said. ``We certainly are not aggressors. We responded. Our objective is to neutralize these groups.''
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