'We Don't Want to Reach the Point of No Return'

Perched on a hilltop, Lebanon's presidential palace overlooks south Beirut.

President Emile Lahoud has a panoramic view of the destruction caused by the warfare between Israeli troops and Hezbollah forces over the last two weeks.

"It's as though they are tearing you apart in front of your eyes," Lahoud said to ABC News.

A former general, Lahoud is commander in chief of the Lebanese army. He's been powerless, though, to defend his country against the carnage left by Israeli forces.

"It's something that will go down in history as an infamy," he said.

Fearing the Point of No Return

Because Israel laid much of Beirut and southern Lebanon to waste after two of its soldiers were kidnapped, Lahoud fears what would happen if Hezbollah sent missiles to Israel's largest city, Tel Aviv.

"That's why I think we don't want to reach the point of no return," Lahoud said. "There must be a cease-fire and stop everything."

On Tuesday night, a Hezbollah leader threatened to take the battle with Israel "beyond Haifa" -- the third-largest city in Israel. Lahoud refuses to criticize him.

"I respect him," Lahoud said. "He's fighting for his own ideals and the ideas of Lebanon, and many Lebanese respect him."

That may be one reason why Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice did not meet Lahoud during her diplomatic peace mission to the Middle East on Monday.

In addition, Lahoud has close ties to Syria.