Despite Koffi Annan’s statement to the Security Council which reflect the deep-seated international unease about the human cost of ‘s aerial onslaught on Lebanon, Israeli warplanes continued their bombardment yesterday,


  is defying a demand by Kofi Annan for an immediate end to fighting on the ninth day of a war that has led to the "collective punishment of the Lebanese people" .

The Israeli ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman, said: "The first thing that must be addressed is a cessation of terror before we even talk about cessation of hostilities."

The US and are isolated in their refusal to back the international clamour for an immediate ceasfire between and Hezbollah.. The US and Britain’s position that wiping out Hezbollah is the first priority regardless of Lebanese civilian deaths, has given Israel a powerful signal that it can continue its attacks with impunity.

According to reports, also appears to be preparing for a major ground offensive in , where residents near the border were warned to leave their homes immediately.

Israeli forces want to push 32 kilometres into southern to create a buffer zone, wiping out Hezbollah guerrilla posts and stopping further rocket attacks.

However, many commentators, Israeli, as well as others, have expressed the view that this could be a dangerous course for . There is a possibility that Israel could get bogged down fighting Hezbollah  on the ground. There is no guarantee that it will succeed in its declared desire to "wipe out"  Hezbollah.. Hezbollah is a guerilla force and does fight in a  conventional warfare manner.The Israeli ground offensive against Hezbollah has so far been blunted when four of its soldiers were reported killed in clashes in south .