18,000 Israeli soldiers mobilized for operations in Lebanon and Gaza

Israeli military officials told the Associated Press that their forces captured two Hezbollah guerrillas yesterday, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters. Israel Army Radio reported the two were the first prisoners Israel has taken in this offensive. Hezbollah has been holding two Israeli soldiers for two weeks, according to Globe and Mail Canada.

Israeli news media have reported that about 18,000 Israeli soldiers have now been mobilized for operations in Lebanon and Gaza.

Israel sent ground troops and tanks into southern Lebanon yesterday and temporarily occupied several villages, continuing its efforts to drive Hezbollah forces from the area, but the Islamic extremist group managed to fire more than 130 rockets into northern cities in the Jewish state.

Early today, Israeli planes dropped bombs inside Sidon for the first time, destroying a religious complex the military said was used by Hezbollah and wounding at least four people, Boston Globe reports.

Israel also conducted air raids today on Hezbollah areas in the southern suburbs of Beirut and in the cities of Hermel and Baalbek in eastern Lebanon. There was no immediate word on casualties in those attacks.

As many as 2,000 Israeli troops entered southern Lebanon yesterday, targeting Hezbollah bunkers and rocket launchers. It was not clear how many troops remained in the region at nightfall, but Israeli officials reiterated that they have no plans for a large-scale invasion or for a reoccupation.