The New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal all lead with the Israeli-Hezbollah war.
Israel took out four bridges north of Beirut yesterday, the first time it has bombed predominantly Christian suburbs. It has now destroyed most of the major roads linking northern Lebanon to Syria, cutting off routes for arms and aid. (The NYT notes that the area’s mountainous terrain makes roadless transport nearly impossible.) It also bombed a suspected weapons depot far east of Beirut, near the Syrian border. About 30 farm workers were killed in that attack. In total yesterday, about 50 Lebanese were killed in 90 Israeli strikes, the Red Cross reported.
Hezbollah launched about 200 missiles into Israel, the third straight day of such large-scale bombardments. The strikes killed three Israelis, and one of the missiles traveled 50 miles, to the town of Hadera. (The NYT locates Hadera “on the coastal highway north of Tel Aviv,” though according to the map, it’s a good 30 miles north.) Israel now has 10,000 troops in southern Lebanon, says the NYT, but it hasn’t made much progress. The Post puts it best:
[Israel’s] forces are still fighting along a wrinkled strip of territory that stretches 50 yards to more than three miles inside Lebanon. … U.N. officials said they estimate that at this pace, with guerrilla battles still pitched in border towns, Israel would need another month to reach the Litani River, a push that Israel’s defense minister has urged his top army commanders to prepare for.
A U.N. official patrolling the border speculates in the Post that Israel is taking things slow to avoid heavy casualties. An Israeli military analyst tells the NYT that Israel needs to retrain its untested reserves before pushing further into Lebanon.
Israel says it has destroyed 40 of 49 Hezbollah positions along the Israeli border, the Post notes. However, Hezbollah communications remain intact, and it could launch missiles for another four weeks, Israel estimates. Iran has now admitted to supplying Hezbollah with long-range missiles capable of hitting Tel Aviv, according to the Jerusalem Post. But Iran has reportedly not allowed Hezbollah to launch them, and Israel says it has destroyed most of them anyway.
Early this morning, Israeli commandos landed via helicopter on a Lebanese beach, the Los Angeles Times reports. The commandos raided an apartment building near where the Hadera missile was launched. Two Israeli soldiers and seven Lebanese were killed, according to the Jerusalem Post. Israel also bombed 70 Lebanese targets overnight.
Muqtada al-Sadr staged a large protest in Baghdad in support of Hezbollah, all the papers report. How many people were there? Depends on who you ask, natch. NYT: “tens of thousands”; WP: “thousands”; an Iraqi working for the LAT: 100,000; U.S. military: 14,000; al-Sadr: 1 million. Sectarian violence in Iraq killed 31 people yesterday.
The WSJ describes how Israel’s attack may revive the sectarian tensions that decimated Lebanon in the ‘80s and ‘90s. The piece has a handy breakdown of the country’s ethnic and religious balance: 95 percent Arab, but 60/40 Muslim/Christian.
The strongman ousted in Ukraine’s Orange Revolution is back in power, the NYT, WP, and LAT report inside. Viktor Yanukovich won a majority of parliamentary seats after the pro-Western Orange movement split in half. Yanukovich will be the new prime minister, while Viktor Yushchenko, who defeated Yanukovich in 2004, will remain president. The LAT notes that Yushchenko could have called new parliamentary elections, but decided instead to govern with Yanukovich to heal the country’s divisions.
The NYT brings word that Sen. Joe Lieberman has decided to scale back his primary-day get-out-the-vote effort—perhaps because he now feels his chances are nil. A new poll shows challenger Ned Lamont ahead by 13 points, 54-41, with 85 percent of voters having made up their minds. (The margin of error, which the NYT neglects to report, is +/- 3.3.) Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., who recently campaigned for Lieberman, says Lieberman should not run as an independent if he loses the primary by double digits.
This morning a French lab confirmed that American cyclist Floyd Landis had illegal testosterone in his urine during the Tour de France. The Tour will likely try to strip him of his title.
A long feature in yesterday’s LAT tries to dig into Mel Gibson’s true nature. Some of his friends speak out in his defense (he’s a nice guy, but a mean drunk), but most don’t return the paper’s calls. Gibson hangs out with Jewish friends and has a Jewish bodyguard and publicist.
So, a Blue-State Reporter Ventures into Dixie and …
A correction from the Washington Post:
An Aug. 4 Metro story about slain Fairfax County [Va.] police officers Vicky Armel and Mike Garbarino incorrectly described a fundraiser as a roaming poker game. The event, called a poker run, is a motorcycle ride.
(Actually, it’s a little of both.)