There is mouting evidence this evening that both Israel and Syria are planning contingencies to face off against each other once again. The Israeli cabinet has agreed to widen the country’s ground offensive against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon:

Israeli Tanks

The decision, made at a closed door session, received unanimous approval, a senior political source said.

In the latest fighting, Israeli war planes struck the eastern Lebanon Lebanese officials said.

Earlier Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ruled out an immediate truce, saying Israel would continue its offensive as long as its security was threatened.

Mr Olmert also reiterated calls for the release of the two Israeli soldiers seized by Hezbollah – whose capture in a cross-border raid sparked the conflict on 12 July.

Speaking in Tel Aviv he said the offensive would end “when the threat over our heads is removed (and) when our kidnapped soldiers return to their homes”. More…

At the same time there is mounting evidence that Syria has placed their military on alert and may be planning an incursion into Lebanon if Israeli ground forces step up plans for a significant ground invasion. Israel’s inner security cabinet voted early Tuesday to expand Israel’s ground operations in Lebanon. The Israeli government had already called up an additional 15,000 reservists last week.

Tensions continued to climb a day after an Israeli missile killed at least 56 people including 30 children, who had sought refuge in a building in the Lebanese village of Qana. Israel called the incident a tragedy and was investigating.

On Monday, Hizbollah launched two rockets at northern Israel, the first after the temporary suspension of aerial attacks on Lebanon was announced. On Sunday, the Lebanese Shiite militia launched at least 140 rockets at Israel, the highest number yet since fighting broke out on July 12.

Syrian President Bashar Assad said that the Syrian Army would not be deterred from “assisting brothers and supporting resistance.” In a letter to the Syrian Army on its 61st anniversary, Assad said that Syria is “more strong and more willing” to stand by Arabs in Lebanon and Palestine and should prepare themselves as much as possible. More…

Every indication is pointing to a wider conflict before the week is out. Seems like Condi and GWB have as much influence over Israel as China has over N. Korea.

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