The Israeli air force colonel returned from a bombing mission in southern Lebanon Friday knowing he had destroyed his assigned target perfectly. He just wasn't sure what he hit.
"I don't exactly know what it was," the pilot shrugged, minutes after landing at the base he commands.Israel has come under increasing international pressure to explain the deaths of 110 Lebanese civilians and the flight of several hundred thousand others from their homes since it launched its operation against Lebanese guerrillas Sunday.
The International Committee of the Red Cross issued a harsh warning in Geneva Friday saying attacks designed to harm or spread terror among civilians are prohibited by the Geneva conventions.
Israeli officials said the United States was pressing to arrange a cease-fire, but Israel wanted guarantees that Syria and Lebanon would permanently curb rocket fire into northern Israel.
Without those guarantees, Israel's six days of constant bombing and artillery shelling would continue to destroy any sanctuary used by the Iranian-trained Party of God militia.
The original goal of containing Katyusha attacks has been expanded to destroying the infrastructure of Hezbollah, which ultimately seeks the destruction of Israel.
The military says the attacks are designed to minimize harm to the Lebanese. Hundreds of thousands have fled the south.
"There have been selected strikes against precise targets to ensure maximum damage to the terrorists with minimum damage to the civilians," said army spokesman Maj. Sheldon Shulman.
But televised scenes of bloody human remains among the rubble of destroyed houses and of panicked civilians fleeing north have raised questions about Israeli precision.
"I'm sorry to hear about them," the 43-year-old colonel said about the civilian panic.