Israel killed at least eight and wounded more than 60 Lebanese in attacks on roads and power stations that left Beirut in darkness. Earlier Thursday, a Hezbollah rocket strike killed two civilians in the northern Israel town of Kiryat Shmona. Hezbollah said it had struck in retaliation for an attack by Israel’s proxy, the South Lebanon Army, which killed a Lebanese civilian. That sequence underlines the volatile situation in South Lebanon. But though bombing Beirut may be designed to put pressure on Lebanon to rein in Hezbollah, Israel knows the key to peace in the area is Syria. Still, if Barak needs a bad cop, Netanyahu’s only too happy to oblige.
Bibi was never comfortable with all this peacemaking, and now he’s bowing out as Israel’s prime minister with both guns blazing. Israeli warplanes pounded targets in Beirut and north Lebanon overnight Friday following a rocket attack on Israel by the Islamic guerrilla movement Hezbollah, and warned of more to come. Incoming prime minister Ehud Barak was not consulted on the decision, and he may prefer it that way. "Making peace with Syria, which controls Lebanon, is Barak’s priority, and he’s not going to let skirmishes with Hezbollah get in the way," says TIME Jerusalem bureau chief Lisa Beyer. "Distancing himself from the decision to strike may actually help him pursue peace with the Syrians by appearing as the good cop."