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Some Key Stories on Lebanon 16 August 2006

Israel Begins Giving Positions to U.N.
The Guardian 8/17/2006
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) - The Israeli army began handing over positions to the U. N. early Thursday, stepping up its withdrawal from southern Lebanon. Hours later Lebanon's army moved south and began deploying below the Litani River, a senior military official said. The rapid developments aimed at ending 34 days of fighting came after Lebanon's government agreed to deploy troops near Israel's border for the first time in 40 years. A senior official in the Lebanese army told The Associated Press around dawn Thursday that Lebanese troops, backed by tanks and other armored vehicles, had begun arriving south of the river in line with the U. N. cease-fire plan. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss troop movements.

Emergency meeting to decide on force
The Guardian 8/17/2006
The UN is to hold an emergency meeting today of 45 countries that have offered troops for a 13,000-strong Lebanon peacekeeping mission, to confirm contributions and speed up deployment. Amid confusion over deployment, the Israeli army is threatening to stall the withdrawal of its forces from southern Lebanon until the UN force is in place. Dan Halutz, Israel's chief of staff, said yesterday his troops would stop withdrawing unless the Lebanese army began to deploy within days, and his troops could remain in southern Lebanon until a multinational force was deployed. He said on Tuesday, as Israeli troops began to withdraw, that they could be out in 10 days. There have been conflicting opinions among potential contributors about the speed of the UN deployment, ranging from days to months.

Deal: Hezbollah will bear arms, but not in public
Ha'aretz 8/17/2006
Hezbollah will retain its weapons in southern Lebanon but its members will not bear them in public, according to an agreement reached yesterday after days of talks between Hezbollah representatives and the Lebanese government. By the end of the week, Israel, which has already considerably reduced its forces in south Lebanon, plans to remove the last of its reserve battalions. Contrary to reports, the IDF is conducting few sweeps of villages in the area where it took control in south Lebanon. Following the Lebanese government's acceptance of its army's plans for deployment in the south, the Lebanese army will take up positions south of the Litani River after midnight tonight. The Al Jazeera network yesterday reported Hezbollah's refusal to accept any proposal involving a handover of its weapons to the Lebanese army...

Tyre postpones mass burial as army fixes bridges
The Daily Star 8/17/2006
Lebanese hospital workers struggled to deal with an overflowing morgue as more bodies were found in the ruins of buildings and other corpses remained unclaimed. UN peacekeepers in Lebanon, meanwhile, said they had recorded three breaches of the cease-fire over the past 24 hours which left four Hizbullah fighters dead. Meanwhile, Lebanese troops worked to rebuild roads and bridges in the first serious moves to deploy in the South. In the coastal city of Tyre, a temporary mass grave was dug in the city for more than 100 civilians, but burial was postponed so relatives had more time to claim bodies. In the Southern village of Srifa, rescue workers pulled 32 bodies from the rubble in the past two days, Mayor Afif Najdeh told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Khiam Residents Return to 'Armageddon'
An Nahar 8/16/2006
Abbas Saadik feared the worst as he headed back to his home in the tiny hilltop town of Khiam in southern Lebanon but nothing had prepared him for the devastation he found. "We were expecting damage, but this is Armageddon. There's no other word to describe it," said the young engineer, dumbfounded after discovering his family home, windows smashed and walls pocked with holes. Yet, compared with some of the town's other residents, he can consider himself one of the lucky ones. His neighbor, Nadia Abu Ghaida, 33, has just discovered that in her absence the top floor of her home has disappeared. "I lost one floor. I don't need the staircase anymore," she added.... "It's insane. It don't think the Israeli people realize the crimes committed by their government... "

Frantic search for peacekeepers
By Thalif Deen, Asia Times 8/17/2006
NEW YORK - The United Nations is on a global hunt for troops, military equipment and logistical support to revamp its existing peacekeeping force in Lebanon, which has been mandated to monitor the week's ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah. "We have no formal offers yet," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday. "We would like to have firm commitments of troops as soon as possible. "Asked if Secretary General Kofi Annan was concerned that no country had so far offered troops following the UN's ceasefire resolution last Friday, Dujarric said: "We do expect a more formal meeting [of troop contributing nations] on Thursday, at which point, hopefully, we will get those offers [of troops]. " Annan told Israeli television it would take weeks or months to deploy peacekeepers.

Cabinet approves troop deployment in South today
The Daily Star 8/17/2006
BEIRUT: Lebanon's Premier Fouad Siniora vowed Wednesday that the army deployment in the South would end a "mentality of statelets" and make state forces the only armed presence in Lebanon, helping protect the country from regional conflicts. In a televised speech, Siniora addressed the Lebanese, calling on them to rally behind the government and the army as the sole forces in Lebanon.... "You stood together in the face of Israel's murder, so now is not the time to divide. It is the time to rise to the challenges ahead and to big decisions, together," he said. "There will be a single state... with the sole decision-making power, there will be no dual authority," he said... "There will be no more mentality of statelets, factional programs.... No one inside this country or out has the right to take the people and the nation to wherever he chooses. "

Israel begins pullout from Lebanon
AlJazeera 8/17/2006
Israel will complete withdrawal only after the UN troops arrive -- The Israeli military has begun its withdrawal from southern Lebanon, handing over positions there to a UN force for the first time. "The process of transferring authority has begun," an army statement said on Thursday. It said that an agreement had been reached after a three-way meeting between Israeli and Lebanese officers and a representative of the Unifil - the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. More than 50 per cent of the area Israel holds has been transferred already, the army said. One area extends north and east of the town of Marjayoun and another further west. Under a UN ceasefire agreement that has been in effect since Monday morning, Israel was to transfer control of its positions.. to Unifil, which would then turn it over to the Lebanese army.

Nasrallah is likely to deliver his victory speech in public in a southern suburb of Beirut
Ma'an News 8/16/2006
Beirut -- Sources close to the secretary general of Hezbollah, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, have said that he will appear in front of Lebanese residents of southern Beirut, where he will pay a visit and meet with people. The source reported that Nasrallah is supposed to visit Bint Jbail and deliver a speech to thousands of Lebanese citizens and Hezbollah supporters. That will be the "victory celebration". In addition, Nasrallah in his first public appearance since war broke out, will meet with the Lebanese president, Emil Lahhud and a number of Lebanese leaders, including Nabih Berri. The same source affirmed that Sheikh Nasrallah insisted on meeting the Lebanese people in public to deliver the victory speech as he had done in Bint Jbail in 2000, paying no attention to "the Zionist threats. [end]

EU countries lead way as composition of expanded UNIFIL starts to take shape
The Daily Star 8/16/2006
Turkey, Italy and Germany were engaged in talks with regional leaders on the make-up of a UN peacekeeping force in Southern Lebanon on Tuesday, while Iran sent its foreign minister to Arab countries to discuss the crisis. A day after Hizbullah declared "victory" in its monthlong fight with Israel, the EU said the group must "choose between being a responsible force in Lebanese politics or a beachhead for Iran. " During a joint news conference with his Egyptian counterpart, Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said Italy may dispatch "up to one brigade, or almost 3,000 men. " After giving the first specific number for the country's contribution to the planned reinforcement of the UNIFIL force, D'Alema said that he was unsure whether it would be necessary to send so many troops.

Prisoners' Supporters ask Nasrallah to stick to detainee position
Ma'an News 8/16/2006
Gaza -- The Prisoner's Support Society has, on Wednesday, asked the secretary general of Hezbollah to stick to his position about the release of Arab and Palestinian prisoners. In a statement that reached Ma'an, the organization called on all the national formal Arab institutions to support that position and protect the prisoners' right to freedom. Nasrallah has stressed the importance of a united Palestinian – Lebanese stance, which will support the resistance efforts to free all prisoners from Israeli jails. The great experiment of the Lebanese resistance, according to the Prisoners' Supporters, was a victory for the Palestinian resistance; enough to assure freedom for the Palestinian and the Lebanese prisoners. [end]

Cabinet members spar over proposed weapons compromise
The Daily Star 8/16/2006
BEIRUT: A compromise agreement currently being hammered out between Hizbullah and the Lebanese government is expected to allow the party to keep hidden weapons in South Lebanon, the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported Tuesday. While Hizbullah would need to keep the weapons it possesses south of the Litani River hidden, an agreement for areas north of the river would be "left to a long-term solution," the paper said. If the proposed compromise is accepted by Premier Fouad Siniora's Cabinet, it would violate the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. And it is also a violation of the "one weapon" principle of Siniora's seven-point plan... the session scheduled for Sunday was indefinitely postponed amid reports that Hizbullah ministers would try to pass the hidden-weapons compromise despite strong opposition from some ministers of the March 14 Forces.

Annan to meet families of captives
Jerusalem Post 8/16/2006
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan accepted a request from Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Wednesday to meet with the families of kidnapped soldiers Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev and Gilad Shalit and send representatives to try to bring about the soldiers' release. Livni came to New York for a 12-hour lightening visit in hopes of advancing Israel's interests in talks on implementing the cease-fire in Lebanon, expediting the deployment of international forces and bringing about the return of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers. "The fact that the kidnapped soldiers have not been released by Hizbullah is a clear violation of UN Resolution 1701 and I expect the international community to continue acting to bring about their immediate release," Livni told Annan.

Livni in UN: Agreement already violated
YNet News 8/16/2006
In meeting with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, foreign minister says fact kidnapped soldiers were not released constitutes violation of Resolution 1701; Annan promises abducted troops' issue is one of his top priorities, says first force of 3,500 troops to be sent to Lebanon within week -- WASHINGTON – Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who met with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in New York on Wednesday evening, said that the fact the abducted Israel Defense Forces soldiers have not been released constitutes a violation of Security Council Resolution 1701. She added that she expects the international community to work for the troops' immediate release. Annan responded positively to Livni's proposal that he meet with the families of kidnapped soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

Israeli troops 'could be in southern Lebanon for months'
The Guardian 8/16/2006
Israel's military chief today said it could be months before Israeli troops left southern Lebanon if an international force did not arrive to take their place soon. Dan Halutz, the armed forces chief of staff, said the Israel Defence Force would stay in occupied areas until the 15,000-strong Unifil peacekeeping force could come in to prevent Hizbullah guerrillas from taking control. "The deployment of Unifil troops in south Lebanon is likely to take several months," he told a parliamentary committee. "It is not clear exactly how many. Until then, IDF forces will be forced to stay in the field. "He warned that the withdrawal would stop altogether is the Lebanese army was not deployed to control the border region within days.

Lebanese Army Considered Ineffective Amid Deployment Setbacks
International Middle East Media Center 8/16/2006
While a continued ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah is reliant on the quick deployment of a peacekeeping force and the withdrawal of Israeli soldiers, the Lebanese army has neither the manpower nor the military resources to manage Hezbollah, disarm it or defend itself from possible future Israeli attacks. With this current dilemma and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Dan Halutz’s statement Wednesday that Israeli forces may have to remain in Lebanon until Lebanese soldiers arrive and Hezbollah’s refusal to disarm, the already tenuous ceasefire could break any moment. The deployment of an international peacekeeping force depends on Hezbollah’s disarmament, which is considered the responsibility of the Lebanese government.

After 34 days of war, Hizbullah turns its attention to rebuilding southern Lebanon
The Guardian 8/17/2006
15,000 families promised year's rent and furniture · Iran to fund estimated $150m reconstruction -- For 34 days they doggedly fought off the mighty Israeli army. But as a three-day-old ceasefire gathers traction, Hizbullah's hardened fighters are swapping their missile launchers for spades, brooms and briefcases of cash. As refugees flood back to their war-ravaged villages, Hizbullah has flung itself to the front of the burgeoning reconstruction effort in southern Lebanon, funded with a deluge of petro-dollars from neighbouring Iran. "We want to bring south Lebanon back to life and rebuild it better than it was before the war," said Nabil Kaouk, Hizbullah's top official in southern Lebanon, standing before the group's flattened headquarters building in Tyre. In nearby villages, his supporters were already hard at work.

Economically, heart of Beirut is barely beating
The Daily Star 8/17/2006
By Nour Samaha -- Empty streets, darkened restaurants and a lone window cleaner shuffling his mop and bucket. This is Downtown Beirut. It once used to be the busy hub of Lebanon's capital, the summer playground for both Arabs and Europeans alike. Now, it resembles the ghost-town scene of an old Western film. "There are a couple of restaurants open, but all the shops are staying shut," said George, who works in the music store Number One. "This is all because of the war, and tourists are not going to come anymore while we still have problems with Israel. "Others are more optimistic. Jihan, the manager of the restaurant/cafe Mi-Chaud, said they were opening because it was now business as usual in Beirut, and while they may not have many customers, they do expect to start pulling them in soon.

Homeless Lebanese Register for Hizbullah Compensation
An Nahar 8/16/2006
Hundreds of people went from one room to another at a makeshift registration center in a high school Wednesday, reporting damage to their homes from Israeli bombing to Hizbullah agents with pen and notebooks. The officials promised to help them rebuild. Tens of thousands of people have returned to their shattered villages in eastern and southern Lebanon as well as Beirut's southern suburbs, or Dahiyeh, to find their homes either damaged or totally destroyed in a month of fighting between Israel and Hizbullah. Hours after a cease-fire went into effect Monday, Hizbullah leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, appeared on television and promised to help Lebanese rebuild, pledging money for civilians to pay rent and buy furniture.

Influential Lebanese Businessmen and Politicians Vow to Rebuild the Country's Destroyed Bridges
An Nahar 8/16/2006
Lebanese businessmen and private companies pledged Wednesday to rebuild 12 of the 80 bridges destroyed by Israeli bombardment during the month-long conflict. Legislator Bahia Hariri, sister of slain billionaire former Premier Rafik Hariri, said her family has committed to rebuilding five bridges in south Lebanon, including bridges linking the banks of the Awali River, north of Sidon, and Zahrani, south of the city. The Hariri group's Geneco company will begin work very soon, she said. Parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri will finance the reconstruction of 4 bridges in the south, whereas his brother Bahaa will take charge of works on the Zahrani bridge, the Hariri-owned Future television said. Hariri's fortune is estimated at 16 billion dollars, according to the U.S. Fortune magazine.

Was the war in Lebanon a blueprint for Iran?
By Jim Quilty, The Daily Star 8/17/2006
Investigative journalist contends Us colluded in air attacks -- BEIRUT: This week, Seymour Hersh, one of America's most-respected investigative journalists, published a piece in The New Yorker asserting that the higher echelons of the White House and Pentagon colluded with the Israeli military in formulating a plan to attack Lebanon - well in advance of Hizbullah's 12 July kidnap of two Israeli soldiers. Vice President Dick Cheney supported Israeli plans to attack Lebanon, Hersh contends, after Israel's military command encouraged him to view it both as a blueprint for a massive US air attack upon Iran and a pre-emptive strike against Hizbullah's capacity to respond to such an attack... The major ramifications of Hersh's claims apply to America and Iran. Clearly, though, his assertions will have an impact in Lebanon as well... -- See also: Watching Lebanon: Washington’s interests in Israel’s war and The Iran Plans

Displaced stream back to South - with army to follow
The Daily Star 8/16/2006
Plans to deploy troops in South Lebanon gathered pace on Tuesday as a fragile cease-fire held and thousands of displaced Lebanese civilians jammed bombed-out roads in the hope of returning home. The Lebanese Army will begin its deployment south of the Litani River on Thursday in line with a UN-brokered truce that halted fighting between Israel and Hizbullah, a senior political source said on Tuesday. The source said the 15,000-strong force had started to assemble at various army bases. The arrival of Lebanese and UN troops in the war-battered South is seen as a key step toward easing fears that the truce that took effect Monday could unravel at any time and trigger renewed battles. ... the Israeli Army said it killed at least three Hizbullah fighters and that a dozen rockets targeted Israeli positions in the region but that soldiers did not return fire.

Sad task of searching the rubble begins
The Daily Star 8/16/2006
BEIRUT: The Lebanese Civil Defense pulled over 10 bodies from the rubble in the Dahiyeh Tuesday as witnesses claimed they still heard screams from under the demolished buildings. The Lebanese Red Cross confirmed that another 61 bodies had been found in the South and 18 people had been injured in rubble-related accident. "I'm looking for my friend," said 15-year old Ali Serhan, scrunching his nose because of the putrid smell of dust, rubbish and rotting bodies, as he stood outside Mojamaa al-Hassan, a compound of eight buildings where his friend used to live. "I haven't seen him since the start of the war. Before, we used to sit and play games right here and go to the barber shop so we could look nice. "So far, all Serhan had found was a soccer ball and a Koran.

AUB volunteers decided to continue relief efforts for at least another week
The Daily Star 8/17/2006
Even though a UN-brokered cease-fire came into force on August 14, thus allowing many displaced families to return to their homes, the AUB Volunteer Relief team has decided to go on with its effort for the next week or two. The AUB team, which consists of both a public health and a medical arm, was set up in the second week of the war, in response to rising humanitarian need. The team sought to provide displaced families with basic health and hygiene needs. "We've decided to keep on visiting the displaced centers for another week or so," said Dr. Iman Nuwayhid, who is leading the public health arm of the AUB volunteer team. "We don't want anyone to fall through the cracks. "

IDF commander: Olmert ordered us to stop
YNet News 8/16/2006
Ynet correspondent joins paratroopers for 48 hours on Lebanese soil, provides an account of operation that was stopped after Hizbullah hit chopper; did hesitation and panic led to loss of momentum? Could it be done differently? -- Last Saturday at dusk, the huge transport helicopters began landing at a field somewhere in northern Israel. The dozens of Blackhawk choppers were organized in one row, their engines working, clouds of dust rising from the ground and painted red by the setting sun's rays. The nearby area where troops were gathered looked like a central bus station. Hundreds of regular and reserve paratroopers applied black, brown, and green camouflage face paint on each other, while sharing macabre jokes and exchanging friendly slaps.

Lebanese general arrested for drinking tea with IDF
Jerusalem Post 8/16/2006
A Lebanese general was ordered arrested Wednesday for appearing in a videotape drinking tea with IDF soldiers who had occupied his south Lebanon barracks during their incursion of the country. Adnan Daoud was summoned and ordered held for questioning, Interior Minister Ahmed Fatfat said in a statement. Daoud is commanding officer of the 1,000-strong joint police-army force that had positions in southern Lebanon and was based in Marjayoun. IDF troops seized the barracks there last week and held him and 350 soldiers for a day before allowing them to leave the occupied zone. The Lebanese garrison, which is lightly armed, did not resist the Israeli force which moved in armor into the base.

Maronite Bishops call for single national leadership
The Daily Star 8/17/2006
BEIRUT: Criticizing what it called a divided national decision-making process, the Council of Maronite Bishops said Wednesday that "it is impossible to continue like this. " "Decisions have to be taken by one leader, one leader represented by the government who has won the confidence of Parliament and is elected by the people, otherwise the country is doomed to suffer catastrophes," said Monsignor Youssef Tawq, spokesman for Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir. In a statement released following an extraordinary meeting chaired by Sfeir in Bkirki, the council said the cease-fire in the Israeli-Lebanese conflict - which has destroyed much of Lebanon's infrastructure as well as devastated thousands of homes and displaced hundreds of thousands of citizens - has been welcomed by the Lebanese.

Iranian leader: Hizbullah resistance a victory for Islam
YNet News 8/17/2006
In message to Hizbullah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says 'you have ridiculed myth that Zionist army is invincible' -- Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a message to Hizbullah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah , described the group's resistance against Israel 's military onslaught a "victory" for Islam. "Your unprecedented holy war and steadfastness are beyond the limits of my description. It's a divine victory. It is a victory of Islam," Khamenei said in the message read by an announcer on Hizbullah's al-Manar television. Hizbullah is heavily financed and backed by Iran's Shiite Muslim theocracy. "... With God's help you were able to prove that military superiority is not (measured) in the number (of soldiers), planes, warships and tanks... "

Peres: Abducted troops alive
YNet News 8/16/2006
Vice premier: According to various sources, two kidnapped IDF soldiers in good condition -- WASHINGTON – Vice Premier Shimon Peres, who is currently in Washington to meet with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, told journalists that as far as he knows the two soldiers kidnapped by Hizbullah, Ehud Goldwasser and Gilad Regev, are still alive. Peres said that as far as he knew, the abductees are alive and well and added that he is basing his assessment on several sources. Speakingto correspondents at the US capital, Peres said the responsibility for the soldiers' well being and their unconditional release lies with the government of Lebanon, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

Family names their new-born Nasrallah in honor of Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah leader
Palestine News Network 8/16/2006
A northern West Bank Qalqilia family named their first born Nasrallah this morning. The baby is named in honor of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah Secretary General, Hassan Nasrallah. He has taken on legendary status as of late for refusing to back down from fighting back, both physically and in speech, against the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon and the major attacks that began on 12 July. The baby’s father told PNN Wednesday, “My wife saw the birth of our son in a dream and in that dream his name was Nasrallah. ”His parents are aware that baby Nasrallah may face additional problems in the future with Israeli soldiers for carrying the name of targeted man. However the father said, “This will not stop us. There are so many children with names in honor of Yasser Arafat, Saddam Hussein, Ahmed Yassin, Abdel Azziz Rantisi... "

Olmert, Peretz popularity plummets
Jerusalem Post 8/16/2006
The approval ratings of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz have fallen to their lowest depths since they took office 100 days ago this week, according to polls published in three Hebrew dailies on Wednesday. Olmert and Peretz's popularity rose during the month-long war in Lebanon, primarily due to what is called the "rally around the flag effect. " But that support proved temporary as their numbers fell lower than they were before the war began. A Smith Research poll published in the business daily Globes found that 62 percent felt that Olmert did not handle the war properly and only 34% said he handled it well, compared to 73% who praised his performance a week ago. A Dahaf Institute poll in Yediot Aharonot found 47% approved of Olmert's performance and 51% disapproved.

Anger at ceasefire sparks inquiry
The Guardian 8/17/2006
The Israeli defence minister, Amir Peretz, yesterday appointed a former army chief to head an inquiry into Israel's conduct of the 34-day fight against Hizbullah in Lebanon. The inquiry followed opinion polls that showed many Israelis deeply unhappy with the government's handling of the conflict. A majority - 57%, according to the mass-circulation daily Yedioth Aronoth - want Mr Peretz to resign. Some 41% believe the prime minister, Ehud Olmert, should quit. The committee, made up of business executives and retired generals, would also look into the army's preparedness ahead of the fighting, officials said. It is expected to report within three weeks. But the move fell short of meeting growing demands for a commission to probe the government's and the military's conduct during the conflict.

Defense Minister: IDF didn't warn me of missile threat in the north
Ha'aretz 8/17/2006
When Defense Minister Amir Peretz took office four months ago, Hezbollah and the missile threat were at the bottom of the priority list senior IDF officers presented him, Peretz says. In private conversations over the past few days, Peretz said officers did not tell him there was a strategic threat to Israel, and did not present him with all relevant information about the missile threat. "Conclusions should not be drawn regarding individuals while the battle is still being fought," Peretz said in these conversations, leading listeners to believe he is waiting for Chief of Staff Dan Halutz to resign. Halutz has admitted to selling his stock portfolio hours after Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers, triggering the month-long war.

Peretz's commission of inquiry slammed
YNet News 8/16/2006
'Failure to claim responsibility' -- Politicians attack defense minister's decision to appoint former IDF chief of staff as head of investigation committee into war in Lebanon, after he consulted with him regarding strategic and military moves -- Shortly after the publication that former IDF Chief of Staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak will chair a commission of inquiry into the army's conduct before and during the war against Hizbullah , political sources began criticizing the move. Since Defense Minister Amir Peretz often consulted with Shahak during the fighting, many critics of the committee said it was inappropriate to appoint Shahak to the head of a committee to investigate the Israel Defense Forces' management of the war.

Environmentalists demand urgent clean-up of oil spill
The Daily Star 8/16/2006
BEIRUT: Since the Israeli bombardment started a month ago, Mustafa Asmar, a 43-year-old fisherman, has not been out to sea. Although the cease-fire went into effect on Monday, Asmar is still out of work because more than 300 tons of heavy fuel oil pollutes the small Delieh port where he docks his boats with other fishermen. "I hope the oil will be cleaned as soon as possible so I can go back to the sea," Asmar said, adding that during the war it was too dangerous to work because of the sea blockade. Activists and volunteers from Green Line, an environmental NGO, said Tuesday that they would start clean-up operations on the Ramlet al-Baida beach on Thursday. "It is imperative that clean-up operations start immediately," said Wael Hmaidan, a Green Line member, during a press conference in Delieh.

Amid the bombs, unity is forged
By Herbert Docena, Asia Times 8/17/2006
      BEIRUT - Hussein Choumer hangs around one corner in the district of Haret Hreik in the southern suburbs of Beirut. Around him are mountains of rubble, the remains of over 100 mostly 10-storey residential buildings flattened by Israeli missiles now turned monuments of destruction. Books, towels, washing machines, and mattresses are strewn on the streets, covered with a thick film of powdered concrete and ash. The last page in a calendar shows the day it all started: July 12; the hands of the clock in one shop is stuck at 12:25. The air is redolent with the strange mix of filth and gunpowder.
     Hussein, his wife, and three children used to live here. His house is gone. And yet, "I consider my loss as nothing," Hussein says. "What matters is that our brothers are in southern Lebanon fighting. And as they fight, they're giving me back my home." Two hours later, a volley of Israeli bunker-buster bombs once again hit the neighborhood.
     Sixty of the thousands of families who lost their homes in these suburbs have camped out in a school in central Beirut. Outside, a large picture of Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah hangs at the center of a clothesline over the narrow street. The atmosphere inside is anything but despondent. Over a hundred children are running around the small courtyard playing. In a little while, they burst into a chant "We love Nasrallah!" The adults follow. These families have just lost everything. They're having the time of their lives.
     With over 1,400 dead, more than 3,000 wounded, over a million displaced, and entire districts and villages in ruins, Lebanon marked the "cessation of hostilities" on Monday with a heady mix of awe and anxiety, lamentation and celebration.

Hizbullah has achieved what Arab states only dreamed of
By David Hirst, The Guardian 8/17/2006
      The sixth Arab-Israeli war, as some have called it, has ended in the first real setback for Israel's deterrent power
     There was nothing new about the broad objective behind Israel's war on Lebanon: through the destruction of Hizbullah it was to wreak fundamental change in a strategic, political and military environment that it had come to regard as menacing to its future. Nothing new about its methods either: the use of massive violence not merely against its military adversary but against the civilians and the infrastructure of the country in which it operates. Or about its official justification: seizing upon one single act of "terrorist" violence from the other side as the opportunity to strike at the whole "terrorist" organisation that was responsible for it. Or about the international support, even outright collaboration, it enjoyed, although in the case of the US and Britain this support was unprecedented in its partisan degree and in the perception of the vast dimensions, nature and menace of the "enemy" against which Israel was waging war. For Condoleezza Rice the "root causes" of the Lebanese crisis lay not on the Israeli side but in the wider Arab and Muslim world: Hizbullah was but the cutting edge of "global terror", of the Islamic fanaticism that nurtured it, and of those states, Iran and Syria, that succour these forces for their own purposes, whether inspired by ideology or realpolitik.
     Nor was there anything fundamentally unexpected about the Israeli campaign. For it grew out of very nature and dynamics of the Arab-Israeli conflict. For all the peace-seeking diplomacy it also engenders, that conflict remains what it was from the outset, one in which violence is always the ultimate arbiter. Ever since the 70s, when the Arab states lost the will and ability to fight classical wars, most of the violence has been confined to the main protagonists - Israelis and Palestinians. Basically, Israel seeks through violence to preserve all the gains, at Palestinian expense, that violence secured it in the first place, or at least as much of them as is consistent with its view of what would constitute a reasonable peaceful settlement. The Palestinians use violence in repeated attempts to wrest back enough of what they have lost, or simply to cause sufficient pain and alarm to make possible what, in their view, that settlement should entail. Most of the time violence has been low-level and attritional, but every now and then it escalates into something much larger.

A SCORE CARD Tony Sayegh
Israeli Objective--------------------- Score (0-10)
1) Kill Hasan Nasrallah -----------------------------------------0
2) Prevent Missile Firing On Israel, In Retaliation--------------0
3) Occupy The Area South Of The Litani---------------------------0
4) Push Hizbullah North Of The Litani----------------------------0
5) Turn The Lebanese And The Arabs Against Hizbullah-------------0
6) Destroy The Military Capability Of Hizbullah------------------0
7) Disarm Hizbullah----------------------------------------------0…

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Will Mossad Ignite a War with Syria by Killing Fouad Siniora? John Brown, Savage Justice
Since the sham cease-fire took hold in Southern Lebanon two days ago – a ceasefire in which the UN allows Apartheid Israel to freely blockade, murder and pillage the same Lebanese whose land it occupies while crying about Hizbullah’s arms – the Zionist propaganda site DEBKA has written several articles suggesting that an attempt on the life of Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora, is imminent. As one would predict from suc! h a propaganda outfit, DEBKA claims to have anonymous sources who assert that Syria will carry out the assassination. But in the wake of a great victory for the Resistance that has rendered “the Middle East they (the Americans) aspire to… an illusion,” in the words of President Bashar Assad, such an attack makes no sense from Syria’s perspective. With Lebanon’s pro-West Prime Minister already emaciated by the failed Zionist invasion, Syria has nothing to gain by assassinating him…

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Israel to Lebanese: don’t return to your homes. Lenin’s Tomb
Israel’s latest leaflets: “We warn you not to head to the southern regions before the deployment of the forces that are supposed to safeguard your security,” said leaflets dropped by Israeli aircraft in south Lebanon on Tuesday. Nevertheless: Despite the warning, Thousands of vehicles jammed the bombed-out coastal highway linking Beirut to the south from the early hours of Tuesday as thousands of displaced people headed home. Because what! are the Israelis going to do?…

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Operation “Change of Location”?
How Reports of the July 12th Capture of IDF Soldiers Soon Shifted From Lebanon to Israel
A team of Israeli lawyers is now suing the Lebanese government for starting the war. The case, to be filed in US civil court, will sue for compensation and damages incurred by Israeli residents and businesses as a result of the war. Attorneys Yehudah Talmon, Yoram Dantziger and Nitzah Libai claim the Lebanese government violated international law because it didn’t stop He! zbollah’s casus belli cross-border raid against Israel. Israel’s justification for its ‘self-defense’ attack on Lebanon, and the placement of the original “provocation” will take on new legal significance in coming months. Who infiltrated whom, and on what territory did the initial capture of the IDF soldiers occur? Differing press accounts stating that the capture occurred in Lebanon- not Israel- are now widely known: most frequently cited are AFP, Hindustan Times, Deutsch Press Agency, Asia Times, Bahrain News Agency and Voltairenet. Others reflect changes of direction in the recording of basic facts.

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Finally, an American news source pays attention to the victims of the Israeli war of aggression on Lebanon
The Angry Arab News Service
Finally, an American news source pays attention to the victims of the Israeli war of aggression on Lebanon: “Israeli zoo animals show signs of stress” …

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Rules for reporting on the war Stephen Gowans
…Still, the deception, helped along by the frequent invoking of the red herring of Israel’s right to self defense, is that Hezbollah is attacking Israel. Sure, Israel has a right to self defense, but what does that have to do with this war? Nazi Germany had a right to self defense too, but that didn’t include invading Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, the Soviet Union and on and on. The standard operating procedure, where Israel is concerned, is to turn the ! truth on its head. And the chief truth inverter is the Western media. Rule #1. The “who started it?” rule. It is always the Arabs who attack first, and always Israel that retaliates in self defense. The current Israeli assault on Gaza is attributed to the capture (called a kidnapping) of corporal Gilad Shalit, by a group of Palestinians who tunnelled under the border and attacked an Israeli watchtower. But the day before Shalit’s capture, Israeli forces crossed into Gaza and captured (that’s captured, not kidnapped) a Palestinian doctor and his brother. Israel has kidnapped 64 Hamas members, including cabinet ministers, mayors and legislators. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Rule #2. The terrorism rule. When Arabs kill Israelis, it’s called terrorism. Rule #3. The self defense rule. When Israelis kill Arabs, it’s called self defense. Rule # 4. The reaction of the international community rule. When Israel kills too many civilians all at once, the West calls for restr! aint. Israel pledges it will take care to limit civilian casua! lties, t hen goes about its merry way, blasting apart civilians, blaming the deaths on the militants. “We had to take out the civilians. They were in the way. But we didn’t mean to”…

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Hezbollah’s Victory and the Coming Shock and Awe of Iran Kurt Nimmo
It is said the United States has “scaled-back” its “expectations” now that the United Nations has declared a “ceasefire” in Lebanon. “The U.N. agreement is only the most recent example in which Bush’s second-term doctrine of spreading freedom has run into the realities of international and domestic politics,” notes the Baltimore Sun. Actually, Bush’s doctrine, which has nothing to do with democracy as most people understand the word, ran into the! reality of Hezbollah, the most effective resistance movement in the world. Israel’s defeat at the hands of the Shia resistance group, forged and tempered into steel hard resolve over many years by the experience of a brutal Israeli occupation, has dashed the “expectations” of the neocons, who are cut from the same cloth as the Jabotinksyite fascists in Israel. Consumed with racist hubris, both the Israelis and the American neocons expected a decisive victory over Hezbollah. But it didn’t work out that way…

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Cheney orchestrated Israel’s losing war Michael Carmichael,
Dick Cheney orchestrated Israel’s losing war against Hizbullah by authorizing George Bush and Condoleezza Rice to encourage Ehud Olmert to launch the war against Lebanon as a prelude to America’s forthcoming war against Iran. Following briefings from top Israeli military officials, Cheney approved plans for an air war against Lebanon as a preliminary move to disarm Hizbullah in advance of America’s broader military objective – to launch! an air war against Iran. Had the US launched its war against Iran without Olmert’s intervention in Lebanon, Hizbullah would have been free to attack Israel. Cheney’s plan was designed to disarm Hizbullah, but it was based on what now appears to have been a false assumption – that Israel would win their war in Lebanon…

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A thousand PR experts can’t turn failure into victory’
The Truth Will Set You Free
Taken alone, the statement is true enough. But, who said it – and in what context? [Israeli] MK Aryeh Eldad responded to the ceasefire which took effect this morning: “With the ceasefire taking effect, the government of Israel has gone on a public relations offensive, but a thousand public relations experts cannot turn failure into victory. To him, a ceasefire is not a genuine effort at peaceful resolution for the sake of ! ending bloodshed, but rather a tactical public relations stunt calculated to polish a victory that, in his mind, does not exist…

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Israelis Plan to Steal Lebanese Food Kurt Nimmo
From the military of the only democracy in the Middle East: “If our fighters deep in Lebanese territory are left without food our water, I believe they can break into local Lebanese stores to solve that problem,” Brigadier General Avi Mizrahi, the head of the Israel Occupation Forces logistics branch, informs Haaretz. “If what they need to do is take water from the stores, they can take.” Of course, this is nothing new, as the Israelis have stolen from Arabs for dec! ades, regardless of what was supposedly inscribed on the stone tablets Moses brought down from Mount Sinai…

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In the face of Bush’s lies, it’s left to Assad to tell the truth By Robert Fisk

In the sparse Baathist drawing rooms of Damascus, reality often seems a long way away. But it was a sign of the times that President Bashar al-Assad was able to bring the great and the good of Damascus to their feet by the simple token of telling the truth – which no other Arab leader has chosen to do these past five weeks: that the Lebanese Hizbollah guerrilla army has, in effect, won this round of their war with Israel.

Olmert may not survive this disastrous war By Gwynne Dyer

The ceasefire in southern Lebanon will not hold. Israel will probably lose more soldiers killed in combat in the next month than in the past month (119). Ehud Olmert will probably no longer be prime minister of Israel by the end of this year. And it is all too likely that Binyamin Netanyahu will take his place.

The Israeli debacle will affect the whole region By Ilan Pappe

We should expect more bloodshed and more aggressive policies – if not immediately against Syria and Iran, then against the Palestinians.

Lebanese deaths, and Israeli war crimes, kept off the balance sheet By Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

During Israel’s war against the people of Lebanon, our media, politicians and diplomats have colluded with the aggressors by distracting us with irrelevancies, by concocting controversies, and by framing the language of diplomacy. In the fragile truce that is currently holding while Lebanon waits for Israel to withdraw, we are simply getting more of the same.

Lebanon digs mass grave for war dead:

Hospital officials in the southern city of Tyre said up to 126 bodies would be buried together near an army barracks unless relatives claimed them. Seventy-two corpses were buried there on July 21 to clear overflowing hospital morgues.

Lebanon government compromise would allow Hezbollah to keep hidden weapons in south :

A compromise agreement now being hammered out between Hezbollah and the Lebanese government would allow the Shi’ite guerillas to keep hidden weapons in south Lebanon, the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Bolton casts doubt on Lebanon force:

The Pentagon has sent a single military planner to the United Nations to begin preparations for an enhanced Lebanese peacekeeping force, a top official said. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton suggested to reporters Tuesday that other nations are not eager to commit troops to the 15,000-man force.

Hizbollah defiance of Israel emboldens US foes:

By surviving a ferocious month-long conflict with Israel, Hizbollah has foiled U.S.-Israeli hopes of destroying the Lebanese Shi’ite Muslim group and emboldened its allies in Iran and Syria.

Israel humbled by arms from Iran:

Abandoned Hizbollah positions in Lebanon yesterday revealed conclusive evidence that Syria – and almost certainly Iran – provided the anti-tank missiles that have blunted the power of Israel’s once invincible armour.

A dummy run against Hezbollah:

The intended plan was to coordinate an air campaign with Israel. An anonymous source close to the US Air Force told Hersh, “The big question for our air force was how to hit a series of hard targets in Iran successfully.” Hersh states, “And so the air force went to the Israelis with some new tactics and said to them, ‘Let’s concentrate on the bombing and share what we have on Iran and what you have on Lebanon.’

“Star Wars” agency helps Israel on rocket threat:

“We have been working with the Israelis … as they go through with development of their own indigenous capabilities for that threat,” Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry Obering told reporters after a speech at a missile-defense conference here.

Peretz: We should create conditions for talks with Syria :

“Every war creates an opportunity for a new political process. and I am sure that our enemies understand today they cannot defeat us by force,” Peretz said.

Interview with Imad Moustapha, Syrian Ambassador to the U.S.:

Imad Moustapha, Syrian Ambassador to the U.S. discusses his recent op-ed (Syria Wants to Talk, But Bush Won’t Answer the Phone) in which he says that Syria is interested in engaging the U.S. in talks about Israel-Lebanon.

Real Video

Church body condemns Israel :

Israel’s assault on Lebanon was planned before Hezbollah attacked and was aimed at driving a wedge between the different faiths in the country, a delegation from the World Council of Churches says.

Blair’s Middle East policy has driven me to return my MBE :

I accepted my honour on behalf of Palestinian and Lebanese colleagues. I have now sent it back, also in their name,,1850885,00.html

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