Israeli forces battled Muslim militants on two fronts on Thursday, destroying the office of the Palestinian foreign minister in Gaza, where fighting continues while Hamas holds an Israeli soldier, while also exchanging blows with Lebanon's Hizbollah guerrillas to the north.
Israel launched night air strikes on bridges and roads in southern Lebanon, as the search goes on for two soldiers seized by Hezbollah militants. The strikes occurred as an urgent session of the Israeli cabinet endorsed a strong response against the militants.
Israeli PM Ehud Olmert said the capture was an "act of war", but Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah insisted the two would only be returned via talks. This is unlikely, since the Israeli retaliation is set to increase domestic pressure on Hizbollah, which has refused to disarm in line with a 2004 U.N. resolution, and boost international pressure on the Lebanese government, led by an anti-Syrian coalition, to take action
Mr Olmert said he held Beirut responsible, but Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora denied any knowledge of the Hezbollah operation and refused to take responsibility for the soldiers' capture. In total, at least eight Israeli soldiers and two Lebanese civilians have been killed since the troops were captured. Three Israeli troops were killed in Hezbollah's cross-border raid and four more died when a tank blew up in the subsequent offensive, Israel's first since 2000. The eighth soldier died in the ensuing battle.
Any peace or at least a cease-fire either in the north or south is not forthcoming. The international press, condemns the actions, while international governments sit on their hands, America without enough clout to bring the parties to the negotiating table, Europe, impotent of clout, while fellow Arab governments are hopelessly befuddled as to the right course of action.
It has been a very hot summer. The actions in the Middle East indicate it will not become cooler anytime soon.