The attack came shortly after six aircraft were evacuated to Cyprus, after contacts between Fuad Siniora, the Lebanese prime minister, and Jeffrey Feltman, the US ambassador to Lebanon.

Five aeroplanes of the national carrier Middle East Airlines and a private aircraft owned by Najib Mikati, the former Lebanese prime minister, left the airport after Siniora was assured that the aircraft would not be attacked by Israel.

A Lebanese official denied that a terminal had been hit and said that only runways had been attacked.

Israel has imposed an air and sea blockade on Lebanon and also hit the main highway between Beirut and Damascus, virtually cutting off its northern neighbour from the outside world.

Israeli air raids on suburbs of the Lebanese capital killed three people and wounded 55 overnight, police said on Friday.

Rocket attacks

Hezbollah fighters fired 20 Katyusha rockets in three attacks on northern Israel on Friday, with six people injured, one of them seriously.

The strikes hit Nahariya, Hatzor and Safed, about 15km from Lebanon.

Of the injured, five were in Safed where a house was directly hit, and one person was hurt in Hatzor where a rocket landed near a car.

The attacks raised to about 160 the number of rockets that have hit northern Israel in the past two days.

Nasrallah targeted

The Israeli air force has hit many targets in Lebanon, focusing on buildings that it believes holds weapons belonging to Hezbollah and its leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.

Major General Udi Adam, the chief of Israel's northern command, has said he does not rule out killing Nasrallah.

Ronnie Bar-On, the Israeli interior minister, said: "Nasrallah has issued his own sentence. I doubt if he would be able to find a life insurance agent these days."