Israel had no choice

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The images of Lebanese civilian casualties caused by Israeli bombs are deeply disturbing.

Nonetheless, Israel had no choice but to embark on an aggressive bombing campaign against Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon.

The constant stream of Hezbollah Katyusha rockets shooting into Israel's northern Galilee region must be stopped — forcefully.

Many seasoned observers point to the stall in Israel-Syria peace negotiations as the motivator for the latest cycle of Hezbollah bombs. When Israel broke off talks after a series of Hamas attacks earlier this year, Syria responded by giving Hezbollah the go-ahead to attack Israel, which it has done with a vengeance.

Now, Israel is fighting back by steadily pounding Hezbollah targets — and sending a clear message to Damascus that Syria's support of Hezbollah is a sure-fire way to annihilate any benefits the country hopes to receive from peace talks with Israel.

Syrian President Hafez Assad would do well to heed that message now.

In the meantime, unfortunately, Hezbollah hides under Lebanese women's aprons and in children's playgrounds, making it impossible for Israel to retaliate without harming the innocent.

For the loss of Lebanese life that has occurred since the Israeli bombs began to fly April 11, and for the thousands of Lebanese who have been displaced from their homes, we are deeply saddened.

And we are saddened about the residents of the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona, the partner city of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation. Those who live in the border town have become all too accustomed to life in dreary and fear-filled bomb shelters.

This week, JCF officials approved $43,000 in emergency funding that will pay for medical equipment for ambulances and televisions for children to watch which in bomb shelters in northern kibbutzim.

The federation's Kiryat Shmona office also has been co-sponsoring a daily newspaper in Hebrew and Russian that's being distributed to those living in the shelters.

We hope those gestures will not only help make life more bearable for Israelis affected by the bombings but will send a clear message that we stand in solidarity with Israel at this trying time.