Deadline set for 400,000 villagers to get out

War in Lebanon: Residents told to get out or risk shells and bombs as Israel launches biggest attack since Beirut blitz of 1982

The Israelis ordered 400,000 people to leave southern Lebanon by yesterday evening or face air and artillery attacks, which have already killed at least 21 and wounded 49. The exodus is the largest forced movement of people in the Middle East since the flight of the Iraqi Kurds after the Gulf war in 1991.

In the four days since Operation Grapes of Wrath started, Israel has increased the scope of the attack by stages. All people living south of the Litani river, 20 miles from the Israeli frontier, were told yesterday to leave their homes. For the first time the Palestinian refugee camp at Beddawi, outside Tripoli, in north Lebanon, was attacked by Israeli aircraft.

After a cabinet meeting yesterday Israel said it would stop its assault if it received cast-iron guarantees that Hizbollah, the Lebanese guerrilla movement, would stop firing Katyusha rockets across the Lebanese border. An Israeli woman was wounded yesterday when Hizbollah fired nine volleys of rockets.

Hizbollah say it has not lost a single fighter since the Israeli offensive started. As the skies over southern Lebanon cleared of mist and rain, Israeli planes launched 15 raids. A helicopter hit an electricity substation at Jamhour in what Israel says was retaliation for an electricity black- out caused by a Katyusha in northern Israel. Another air attack was near the Syrian border.

Syria said the US risks losing its role of mediator in the Middle East because of its support for the Israeli strikes. Syrian radio said the US position was exposing the region to "real dangers" and urged it to keep the role of the honest broker in the Middle East conflict: "The American stand is far from having the credibility which a superpower should maintain as a peace sponsor in the world."

Israeli commentators see US support for Grapes of Wrath as a vital source of political strength for Israel, enabling it to conduct prolonged military operations. On Friday the US urged Syria and Iran to curb Hizbollah attacks and defended Israel's strikes, saying Islamic radicals must feel the "consequences" of their acts.

Ehud Barak, the Israeli Foreign Minister, said the onslaught had two objectives: to strike at Hizbollah militarily and to make clear Israel expects the Lebanese government to halt the rocket attacks. He ruled out diplomatic action at this stage. In Beirut, a foreign ministry official said Syria and Lebanon backed a return by Hizbollah and Israel to an understanding, brokered by the US in 1993, barring both sides from targeting civilians.

The present offensive is more extensive than Operation Accountability in 1993, since it includes Beirut and is likely to last longer. The aim is to put intolerable pressure on Beirut to exhort President Hafez al- Assad of Syria to curb Hizbollah.

In the past the Syrian leader has resisted attempts by the US to get him to withdraw his support for Hizbollah and his alliance with Iran.

Leading article, page 14

Suggested Topics
News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleThe idea has been greeted enthusiastically by the party's MPs
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
Sport
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Sport
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
FOOTBALL
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML, CSS, SQL

£39000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML,...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game