Israel on Saturday launched its heaviest bombardment of the nearly month-long conflict in southern Lebanon, carrying out 250 air raids and firing 4,000 shells, and its naval commandos attacked targets near the port city of Tyre to prevent rocket launches by the Hezbollah.
The seven-hour bombardment began at dawn and Lebanese officials said it targeted 15 villages located about five kilometres from the border.
Fourteen people were injured in the raids and the region around the Aitaroun village alone was hit by some 2,000 shells, they said.
The villages fall within the region where over 8,000 Israeli troops are engaged in an offensive to create a "Hezbollah-free" zone that would be patrolled by a planned multi-national force.
In Tyre, the Israeli commandos landed from the sea and attacked an apartment building, sparking a gun battle that lasted several hours. The Israeli military said the raid was aimed against a Hezbollah unit that had been firing long-range rockets.
Israeli officials said the commandos killed two to three Hezbollah guerrillas in the raid. The Lebanese military said at least five Lebanese, including a soldier, were killed.
Today's fighting left at least eight Lebanese and an Israeli soldier dead.
Meanwhile, the US said it was close to an agreement with France on a UN ceasefire resolution that could be ready by next week.
US Assistant Secretary of State David Welch has met Lebanese officials in Beirut since Friday for talks aimed at ending the hostilities.