TYRE, Lebanon -- Israel shut down south Lebanon yesterday with a threat to blast any moving vehicles, as ground fighting intensified near the Israeli border, airstrikes killed at least 19 civilians and Arab governments called for a full Israeli withdrawal as a condition of any cease-fire.
With US, French, and Arab negotiators meeting into the evening at the United Nations, Israel voiced cautious interest in a Lebanese proposal to deploy 15,000 soldiers to control the ground in south Lebanon where Hezbollah has been firing missiles into Israel. But the warring sides appeared to be some distance apart on the text of a possible resolution, now not expected to come before the Security Council before tomorrow.
After four weeks of fighting, nearly 800 people have died on both sides.
Rescuers in Lebanon pulled 28 additional corpses from the wreckage of Monday's attacks, raising that day's toll to 77 Lebanese -- the deadliest single day of the war. Early today , Lebanese and Palestinian officials said Israeli gunboats shelled a Palestinian refugee camp in south Lebanon, causing a number of casualties.
In Tyre, part of the south Lebanon region where Israel declared the no-drive zone, only pedestrians ventured into the streets.
Country roads and highways were deserted throughout the region because of the Israeli threat. Although Israel said it would not attack humanitarian convoys, the UN was not taking any chances.
At least 160 Hezbollah rockets hit northern Israel, most of them in and around the towns of Nahariya, Kiryat Shemona, Maalot, Safed. No Israeli civilians were killed.
Some of the fiercest ground fighting raged around the village of Bint Jbail, a Hezbollah stronghold that Israel has tried to capture for weeks. Three Israeli soldiers were killed there yesterday, the military said, claiming 35 Hezbollah guerrillas died in the fighting.
Hezbollah would not confirm any deaths.
Early today, an Israeli airstrike killed one person and wounded six others in the Palestinian refugee camp Ain el-Hilweh in Lebanon, security and hospital sources said.
According to Reuters, they said the airstrike targeted a position of the Palestinian armed Fatah movement, near the southern city of Sidon.
The issue of who will patrol southern Lebanon, where Hezbollah militants have been operating in their fight against Israel, has become the dominant sticking point in cease-fire negotiations at the United Nations.
Israeli ground troops currently are in the area, and Lebanon and other Arab nations are insisting they must leave when a cease-fire agreement is reached. President Bush says he wants an international force to replace the Israeli soldiers, but that could take weeks.
Both Israel and the United States issued positive, if lukewarm, assessments yesterday of the Lebanese government's plan to dispatch 15,000 soldiers into south Lebanon after a cease-fire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces.
``It looks interesting and we will examine it closely," Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said.
The White House said it was willing to consider the proposal but is convinced that Lebanon is not equipped to handle the job on its own.
``The administration understands that the Lebanese armed forces are going to need some help, and we're working with allies to try to figure out the proper way to do it," White House press secretary Tony Snow told reporters gathered near the president's vacation home.
A day after his Cabinet conditionally approved dispatching the troops to the south, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora praised Hezbollah's resistance, but said it was time for Lebanon to ``impose its full control, authority and presence" nationwide -- as directed in previous UN resolutions that also called for the government to disarm Hezbollah.
``There will be no authority, no one in command, no weapons other than those of the Lebanese state," he said on Al-Arabiya television.
Travel in Lebanon's south has been severely limited since early in the conflict because roads were cut by Israeli airstrikes, many civilians were killed trying to flee the fighting, and rescue and aid workers also were in danger.
But residents had been able to move in vehicles with relative safety inside towns and villages to continue daily routines. Now, with Israel declaring a no-drive zone extending some 18 miles from the border to the Litani River, they are feeling trapped in their homes as well as under constant threat of air attacks.
The United Nations suspended attempts to send relief to southern Lebanon because of heavy shelling in the area, said Christian Berthiaume of the World Food Program in Geneva, Switzerland. However, aid shipments were arriving elsewhere in the country.
The number of Lebanese civilian deaths rose by 47 yesterday as rescue workers pulled 14 more bodies from the wreckage of two buildings in Beirut that were hit by Israeli missiles the night before. The toll in that attack is now 30.
Four strikes on Ghaziyeh yesterday killed 13 people, one of them walking in a funeral procession to bury the dead from the day before. In two days, at least 28 people were killed in the town, three miles south of Sidon, police and civil defense officials said.