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Some Key Stories on Lebanon 25 July 2006

Four peacekeepers killed - Annan: UN base was 'apparently deliberately targeted'
Ha'aretz 7/25/2006
Four peacekeepers were killed on Tuesday in an Israel Air Force strike on a United Nations base in southern Lebanon. The victims included observers from Austria, a Canada, China and Finland, UN and Lebanese military officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information to the media. Israel said on Wednesday that it regrets the "tragic" deaths of the observers and would thoroughly investigate the causes that led to their deaths. "Israel sincerely regrets the tragic death of the UN personnel in south Lebanon," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had earlier called for an inquiry into what he called Israel's "apparently deliberate targeting" of the UN observer force.

Rice applies no pressure in Jerusalem
Jerusalem Post 7/26/2006
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice left Jerusalem Tuesday night for an international conference on Lebanon in Rome without a cease-fire or a date of return, but with an Israeli commitment to allow an airlift of humanitarian aid to Lebanon. Israeli officials said that during her two-hour meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the last 10 minutes of which were held one on one, she did not level any pressure on Israel to end the offensive against Hizbullah. She also told Olmert that although difficult, it would be possible to put together an international force to move into southern Lebanon to help the Lebanese army implement UN Security Council Resolution 1559, including gaining control of southern Lebanon from Hizbullah.

Nasrallah vows to begin firing missiles deeper into Israel
Jerusalem Post 7/25/2006
Hizbullah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, looking extremely tired, defiantly vowed Wednesday that his guerrilla fighters would begin firing rockets deeper into Israel, beyond the northern port of Haifa, and said the Jewish state's two-week-long military offensive against Lebanon was linked to a US-Israeli plan for "a new Middle East. ""I declare that we will enter the 'beyond Haifa' stage," the bearded and black-turbanned Shiite cleric said in a speech on Hezbollah's al-Manar television in the early hours of Wednesday. "In the new stage, our attacks will not remain limited to Haifa. Irrespective of the reaction of the enemy forces on the rocketing of Haifa, we will move to the stage of 'beyond Haifa. "'.... Rice also backed Israel's refusal to negotiate a quick cease-fire, claiming a lasting settlement could not be reached until Hizbullah was disarmed...

Israel plans to stay in Lebanon
The Guardian 7/25/2006
The Israeli military will remain in southern Lebanon until a multinational peacekeeping force is deployed in the area, the country's defence minister said today. Amir Peretz said Israel would control the zone by firing at anyone who enters it. "We have no other option... We will have to build a new security strip, a security strip that will be a cover for our forces until international forces arrive," he told reporters. Israeli government sources suggested the zone could be up to three miles wide, though western diplomats said they had been briefed that the zone's depth could reach up to six miles. The announcement came ahead of crisis talks between senior European, US and Arab officials tomorrow in Rome.... Rice said she had no doubt that certain groups wished "to strangle a democratic and sovereign Lebanon in its crib. "

Israel to establish 'killing zone' on Lebanon border
International Middle East Media Center 7/26/2006
With many Lebanese civilians still hiding in their homes in refugee camps and villages in southern Lebanon, afraid to flee after hearing of convoys of evacuees being hit by Israeli airstrikes, Israeli military officials announced that they are establishing a 'kill zone' across many of those villages, in which anything that moves will be killed. "We have no other option... We will have to build a new security strip, a security strip that will be a cover for our forces until international forces arrive," Amir Peretz, the Israeli defence minister said on Tuesday. Peretz said Israel would maintain control of the security zone by firing at anyone who enters it. Israeli government sources estimated a zone 3-4km in width. Western diplomats briefed by Israel said it could be as wide as 5-10km in some places.

Civilians Bear Fear, Injuries, Death, Grief
Truthout 7/25/2006
(AP) Tyre, Lebanon - Dirty bandages hid the worst of 8-year-old Zainab Jawad's swollen, bloodied nose Monday. Her arm, fractured in two places, was strapped to her chest. Stretched out on a bed at Najem Hospital, Zainab squeezed her brown eyes shut as memories of the attack flooded back, some of her words muffled as she fought sobs. A day earlier, Israeli bombs destroyed her family's home in the southern village of Ayta Chaeb. Then rockets slammed into the family's car as they fled.... Jawad Najem, a surgeon at the hospital, said patients admitted Sunday had burns from phosphorous incendiary weapons used by Israel. The Geneva Conventions ban using white phosphorus as an incendiary weapon against civilian populations and in air attacks against military forces in civilian areas.

'Save us,' she screamed as another shell landed
The Guardian 7/26/2006
'Save us,' she screamed as another shell landed at their feet that tell their story. They are bloody, swollen and bandaged after carrying them over mountains and under rocket barrages as Israel's war against Hizbullah erased the lives behind them. In their villages lay ancestral houses crushed by bombs, family heirlooms abandoned mid-flight, the elderly and the frail, and of course the dead, their bodies trapped beneath the rubble. All that belonged to the past now. The awful present was here in Tibnin General Hospital, a modest facility even in ordinary times, whose doors yesterday opened on a vision of hell: as many as 1,600 desperate and terrified refugees caught up in Lebanon's deepening humanitarian crisis.

Teen girl killed, at least 16 wounded as Hezbollah rockets slam into northern cities
Ha'aretz 7/26/2006
One person was killed and 20 others were wounded as Hezbollah guerrillas renewed their bombardment of communities across northern Israel on Tuesday, launching an estimated 90 rockets. In Maghar, Da'a Abbas, 15, was killed when a Katyusha rocket directly struck a residential home in a Muslim neighborhood in the Galilee village. Magen David Adom medical crews reported that the girl's 30-year-old brother was seriously hurt and her 12-year-old sister was moderately wounded. Two more rockets landed in the village, lightly wounding two people; 20 more people suffered from shock. Residents said they are not looking to blame anyone, but call on both sides to end the fighting. "This situation cannot go on," one said.

Israel captures Hezbollah stronghold
AlJazeera 7/26/2006
Israeli troops entered the border town of Bint Jbeil, a Hezbollah military stronghold, for the first time late on Tuesday as they pushed deeper into Lebanese territory, a UN spokesman said. The Israeli army, which has been encountering fierce resistance in its war on Hezbollah despite its clear military superiority, entered the border town following a day of fierce fighting with the Lebanese Shiite guerrillas. "The Israeli army is in Bint Jbeil. Some sporadic fighting is ongoing inside and around the town," Milos Strugar, spokesman for the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL), told AFP. Asked whether the Israeli troops had captured the town, Strugar said: "It is difficult to know what is really happening at this time. "The civilian population in Bint Jbeil is caught in the crossfire," he added.

Catholic Relief Service calls for ceasefire and humanitarian corridor in Lebanon: $1 million committed for life-saving aid
ReliefWeb/Catholic Relief Services 7/25/2006
July 21, 2006, Baltimore, MD - Catholic Relief Services (CRS) joins Pope Benedict XVI and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in calling for an immediate ceasefire to end the violence in the Lebanon and Gaza, before it expands into a wider and deadlier regional conflict. We condemn Hamas' and Hezbollah's provocative terrorist and cross-border attacks, as well as indiscriminate Israeli military action which is causing the death and suffering of civilians. CRS is also advocating for the establishment of a humanitarian corridor into Beirut for the safe passage of aid workers and life-saving relief supplies. CRS aid workers report transport of humanitarian assistance is becoming increasingly difficult. "Israeli forces have declared that all trucks and large transport vehicles are legitimate targets for air and missile attacks... "

Israeli strikes in Beirut renewed: 12 civilians killed; IDF Hunts Nasrallah
YNet News 7/25/2006
According to reports, Israeli warplanes blasted Dhaiya neighborhood in southern part of town. IDF official: 'Nasrallah know we're after him, his attitude has changed' -- IDF warplanes blasted Beirut Tuesday evening, killing 12 civilians in the southern Dhaiya quarter in town. The area, which has not been targeted in the last two days, was struck with 23 bombs and eyewitnesses reported that smoke was billowing over the entire region. A senior IDF official said that "Nasrallah is a target and hitting him would have a great effect on Hizbullah's position. We are trying to hurt him and he knows this, and this affects his mood and the way he functions. "

Twelve Lebanese killed, Hezbollah shells Israeli cities, army claims capturing Lebanese villages
International Middle East Media Center 7/25/2006
The Israeli army claimed on Tuesday controlling Bint Jbeil Lebanese town, less than 10 km north of the strategic village of Maroun Al-Ras, which was captured by the Israeli army at the weekend. At least twelve Lebanese, six Israeli soldiers and one Israeli civilian were killed on Tuesday. General Alon Friedman, a senior commander in the northern regions said on Tuesday that Bint Jbeil became under the control of the Israeli fores. Talking to the Israeli Radio, Friedman said that soldiers are tanks are now controlling the town. Fierce fighting raged in the area with Hezbollah fighters on Monday as Israeli forces pushed deeper into its northern neighborhood. Moreover, the Israeli military confirmed that six Israeli soldiers were killed in battles near the town, at least fourteen soldiers were injured, including six who were injured by friendly fire.

Red Cross ambulances destroyed in Israeli air strike on rescue mission
The Guardian 7/25/2006
Volunteer paramedics demand UN guarantees · Flags and lights prove no protection for aid teams -- The ambulance headlamps were on, the blue light overhead was flashing, and another light illuminated the Red Cross flag when the first Israeli missile hit, shearing off the right leg of the man on the stretcher inside. As he lay screaming beneath fire and smoke, patients and ambulance workers scrambled for safety, crawling over glass in the dark. Then another missile hit the second ambulance. Even in a war which has turned the roads of south Lebanon into killing zones, Israel's rocket strike on two clearly marked Red Cross ambulances on Sunday night set a deadly new milestone. Six ambulance workers were wounded and three generations of the Fawaz family... with what were originally minor injuries, were left fighting for their lives.

Israeli tanks facing huge losses in Lebanon
Ma'an News 7/25/2006
Bethlehem --A high ranking Israeli military source has called for revision of the role of Israeli tank forces in the aftermath of huge losses that Hezbollah caused when they succeeded to destroy the most advanced Mekava 4 Israeli tanks. The Israeli source added: "The Israeli tanks encounter dangers which they haven't faced for decades because of the quantity and quality of fire. We face intense rocket fire and the ground is full of explosive devices," said an Israeli general. [end]

Another generation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, comes under fire
ReliefWeb/IRIN 7/24/2006
BORJ AL-BARAJNEH, 24 Jul 2006 (IRIN) - Community leaders in Lebanon's largest refugee camp, Borj al-Barajneh in southern Beirut, say thousands of Palestinian families have fled the area around the camp, and sought safety inside it, straining its fragile resources. Terrified families, they say, are now living as many as 16 persons to a room. "This camp is a disaster area,” says Abu Zaher al-Habet, a member of the Popular Committee that organises the camp. "Ninety percent of the people are unemployed. Sixty percent live below the poverty line. We have no running water normally, only water trucks, and now even those are not making deliveries. "Several generations of Palestinians here have been on the receiving end of Israeli attacks. Zakia Hamad was just three years old when her mother was killed by the Israeli army in 1948.

Refugees shelter among victims of earlier conflict
The Guardian 7/26/2006
War has often struck at Lebanon's biggest Palestinian refugee camp but for the first time the guests have become the hosts. As Lebanese villagers escaping Israeli air strikes move northwards from the border, some have sought refuge among the refugees of an earlier phase of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Displaced by Israel in 1948, the Palestinians of Ein el-Hilweh find themselves sheltering the Lebanese refugees of 2006. The year on the calendar advances but the grim dynamic has stayed the same. "So many refugees are coming to Sidon. Local schools are full, so we cooperated with the municipal authorities to take them in," said Amne Jibril Suleiman, who heads the camp's branch of the Union of Palestinian Women in Lebanon.

Iranian report: Suicide bombers en route to Lebanon
YNet News 7/26/2006
Iranian news agency claims expeditionary force of suicide bombers sent from Tehran via Syria to Lebanon. Its goal: To wreak havoc near military, civilian targets, trigger civil war in Lebanon -- Is Tehran stepping up its involvement in the Israeli-Lebanese confrontation? Iran is set to send the first group of suicide bombers to Lebanon on Wednesday, the Iranian news agency ILNA reported. The expeditionary force, dubbed by the Iranian regime as "Loyalists of Islamic Justice," will be the first ever to be sent to Lebanon. According to the report, the force is compiled of seekers of the Shahadah (death for the sake of heaven), who are set to depart from Tehran after the noontime prayer on Wednesday.

Israel to 'control security zone'
AlJazeera 7/25/2006
Israeli forces would a 3-4km 'buffer zone' inside Lebanon -- Israel has said it plans to enforce a "security zone" in southern Lebanon until an international force can be sent to take it over. "We have no other option... We will have to build a new security strip, a security strip that will be a cover for our forces until international forces arrive," Amir Peretz, the Israeli defence minister said on Tuesday. Peretz said Israel would maintain control of the security zone by firing at anyone who enters it. Israeli government sources estimated a zone 3-4km in width. Western diplomats briefed by Israel said it could be as wide as 5-10km in some places. Government officials said Israel would keep up its offensive until a proposed peacekeeping force begins deploying along the southern border...

Rice, Olmert agree on need for multinational force in Lebanon
Ha'aretz 7/25/2006
During a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Tuesday, U.S. President George W. Bush refused to embrace the importance of an immediate cease-fire to end Israel-Hezbollah fighting in Lebanon. "We want to address the root causes of the violence in the area. And, therefore, our mission and our goal is to have a lasting peace, not a temporary peace, but something that lasts," Bush said. Bush has resisted multiple calls from Arab leaders for him to urge an immediate cease-fire, saying Hezbollah attacks on Israelis must be addressed. That position has basically bought time for Israel to carry out its campaign against Hezbollah.

Peretz to Rice: Send civilian multinational force to Lebanon
YNet News 7/25/2006
At end of his meeting with US secretary of state, defense minister says Israel must prevent entrance of Iran into Lebanon; declares that Israel has no intention of being dragged into war with Syria -- A civilian multinational force is to be established to rehabilitate Lebanon – This is the new idea presented by Defense Minister Amir Peretz for the day after the war in order to prevent renewed penetration of Iran into the region by means of rehabilitating and financing the damages of war. "I suggested this to the secretary of state and she was very interested and enthusiastic," said Peretz at the end of his meeting with Condoleezza Rice Tuesday afternoon in Jerusalem.

IDF suspects friendly fire downed Apache helicopter
Ha'aretz 7/26/2006
Monday's helicopter crash, which killed two Israel Defense Forces officers, may well have been caused by a hit from an IDF rocket, according to the preliminary findings of an air force investigation. The two casualties, Colonel Zvi Luft and Captain Tom Farkash, will be buried Wednesday. The Apache Longbow helicopter crashed near Moshav Kerem Ben-Zimra while it was assisting the ground forces fighting at Bint Jbail, in southern Lebanon. According to Israel Air Force officers, an examination of the direction and timing of IDF firing in that area shows that an MLRS rocket was launched at the right time and on the right trajectory to have hit the helicopter. Since an MLRS rocket has a relatively high trajectory, it would be capable of hitting a helicopter that was flying fairly high, as the Apache was.

Analysis: The IDF's new definition of victory
Jerusalem Post 7/25/2006
Hizbullah's fighting force in southern Lebanon can be totally eliminated, say generals in the IDF, but that will take a much more intensive invasion by ground troops, capturing all the territory up to the Litani River. There is a consensus, both at the political and the military levels, that Israel shouldn't be doing that as the cost - in casualties, in economic damage caused by a widespread reservists call-up and in international support - is deemed prohibitive. But the generals are continuing to promise a victory at the end of this round of fighting; so how do they define victory? A senior IDF source said on Tuesday that the victory wouldn't be measured only in military terms, but also in diplomatic ones.

Ma'alot: 4 hurt in evening rocket attack
Jerusalem Post 7/25/2006
The north of Israel found itself once again under rocket fire early Tuesday evening and four people were lightly wounded as twenty rockets fell near Ma'alot. 16 others suffered from shock from the evening barrage. Simultaneously, another volley of rockets rained down in Karmiel, but no one was wounded. For a Jerusalem Online video of events click hereAfter a comparatively quiet morning, rockets landed in Kfar Mrar, Kiryat Shmona, Acre, Tiberias, Ma'alot, Safed, and Nahariya in the afternoon. The heaviest barrage, which included 16 rockets, struck Haifa. In Kfar Mrar, 15-year-old Dou'a Abbas was killed after a rocket struck her home near a mosque in the Galilee village, which is home to Druse, Christians, and Muslims. Also, a 76-year-old Haifa resident died of a heart attack during the latest barrage of rockets on the city.

Lebanese Palestinians to join Hizbullah
Jerusalem Post 7/25/2006
Palestinian gunmen in Lebanon are set to join the fighting against the IDF, the leader of the Fatah faction in Lebanon, Sultan Abu al-Aynain, announced on Tuesday. He said Fatah, which is headed by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, has thousands of fighters in Lebanon who are prepared to participate in the fighting and warned Israel against targeting Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. It is unclear whether the announcement was made in coordination with Abbas. Sources close to Abbas refused to comment on Abu al-Aynain's threats, but acknowledged that he was Fatah's "military commander" in Lebanon. The sources pointed out that in the past, Abu al-Aynain had dispatched Palestinians to Iraq to fight against US troops.

Massive firepower to back ground assault
The Guardian 7/24/2006
Israeli forces appear ready to launch significant ground operations in the Tyre area of south Lebanon from which Hizbullah fighters continued to launch rocket salvoes against northern Israel yesterday. With two more civilians killed by Katyushas hitting Haifa, Israeli military sources signalled that combat units being deployed in the border area were likely to move into action south of the Litani river as air attacks proved incapable of stopping the rockets. "Tyre and its surroundings will get separate and special treatment," reported the Yediot Aharonot daily. "It will take a very hard pounding. " Leaflets have been dropped over 13 villages in the area warning residents to flee.

Syria: Palestinians stranded at border
ReliefWeb/IRIN 7/24/2006
DAMASCUS, 24 Jul 2006 (IRIN) - The UN is urgently appealing to Damascus to ease restrictions at the Syria-Lebanon border to allow Palestinians fleeing Lebanon to enter. "There are 200 Palestinians stranded at border points; some on the main Damascus-Beirut route, others at Dabboussyah near the border governorate of Homs," Panos Moumtzis, director of the UN Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) in Syria, told IRIN on Monday. More than 100,000 people, mostly Syrian but including Lebanese and other foreign nationals, have fled ongoing Israeli attacks and crossed into Syria since 12 July. Some 150 Palestinians have crossed into Damascus since the crisis started.... Many of the 400,000 Palestinians in Lebanon do not have rights or residency status or even documents with them when fleeing.

Hezbollah: Strong Israeli response surprised us
Ha'aretz 7/25/2006
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Wednesday the conflict with Israel had entered a new phase and that the guerrilla group would not accept any "humiliating" conditions for a ceasefire. In a televised address, Nasrallah said Israeli incursions into southern Lebanon would not stop Hezbollah rocket fire into northern Israel and that the conflict was moving "beyond Haifa". The radical Islamic group head said Israel's offensive in Lebanon was part of a conspiracy with the U.S. to create a new Middle East. "In the new Middle East, there is no place for any resistance movement. The resistance movements in Palestine and Lebanon must be eliminated," Nasrallah added. On Tuesday night, a senior Hezbollah official said the guerrillas did not expect Israel to react so strongly to its capture of two Israeli soldiers last month.

U.S. And Israel Publicly Warned By Saudis
Mid-East Realities 7/25/2006
"The Kingdom... also warns all that if the peace option is rejected due to the Israeli arrogance then only the war option remains... " -- It was just two days ago on Sunday that the Saudis all but demanded an emergency meeting with the American President. They came to the White House in force -- the Foreign Minister, the Ambassador to the U.S. (formerly in charge of National Security in The Kingdom), and the old American Ambassador, Prince Bandar bin Sultan (now in charge of National Security in The Kingdom). They left unhappy. They are even more unhappy after Condolezza Rice's failed visit to Beirut and stealth visit to Ramallah as Palestinian protestors demanded a 'Day of Rage' against the Americans and boycotting of Rice. [Full text of statement follows]

Saudi king warns of Middle East war
AlJazeera 7/25/2006
King Abdullah says war may engulf the Middle East if peace option fails -- The king of Saudi Arabia has warned that war could break out in the Middle East if attempts to broker peace in the region fail. In a statement read out on state television on Tuesday, King Abdullah said, "If the option of peace fails as a result of Israeli arrogance, then the only option remaining will be war, and God alone knows what the region would witness in a conflict that would spare no one. " The king appealed to the world to stop Israeli attacks on Lebanon, and also pledged to donate over $1. 5 billion to the country, according to the statement by the royal court. The king has assigned $500 million for the reconstruction of Lebanon, and $1 billion to be deposited in Lebanon's central bank to support the economy.

Hezbollah chief threatens a wider war
AlJazeera 7/26/2006
The leader of Hezbollah has threatened a new phase in the war with Israel and said his fighters will not accept any "humiliating" conditions for a ceasefire. In a televised address on the eve of an international conference in Rome designed to find a solution to the two-week-old conflict, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said Hezbollah would reject any deal that compromised Lebanon's sovereignty. "We cannot accept any condition humiliating to our country, our people or our resistance," Nasrallah said. Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, had put forward peace proposals during a visit to the region this week. Lebanon's parliament speaker said these involved Hezbollah's withdrawal from the border and the deployment of an international force.

Rome meet to push for cease-fire
AlJazeera 7/26/2006
European leaders attending a Mideast conference on Wednesday in Rome plan to push for a cease-fire in Lebanon followed by deployment of a multinational force to stabilize the country's border with Israel and help disarm Hezbollah guerrillas, EU officials said. Calls for a cease-fire gathered steam, raising the possibility of differences with the United States, which insists that any truce must lead to a durable peace and ensure that Hezbollah is no longer a threat to Israel. Officials in Brussels told The Associated Press that Javier Solana, the EU foreign and security affairs chief, will propose at the conference of foreign ministers and other officials on Wednesday that a rapid reaction force be established.

Iran warns the west: ignore us at your peril
The Guardian 7/26/2006
Tehran predicts summit failure as UN observers die in Israeli airstrike -- Iran warned the west yesterday that attempts to broker a Lebanon peace deal at today's Rome summit are destined to fail and it predicted a backlash across the Muslim world unless Israel's military forces were immediately reined in. Senior government officials said the exclusion from the summit of Iran, Syria and their Lebanese ally Hizbullah meant that no lasting settlement was possible. Hamid Reza Asefi, the foreign ministry spokesman in Tehran, said: "They should have invited all the countries of the region, including Syria and Iran, if they want peace. How can you tackle these important issues without having representatives of all countries in the region? "

Haniyya: “US view on new Middle East destroys Lebanon, kills more Palestinians”
International Middle East Media Center 7/26/2006
Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyya, said on Tuesday that the Unites States’ view of a new Middle east began with "destroying Lebanon" and with killing the maximum number of Palestinians, the Middle-East online news website reported. Haniyya said that the Palestinian government condemns the American position that “gives the green light to the occupation to continue its aggression”. The statements of Haniyya came during a Palestinian cabinet session on Tuesday. "We ask the American administration to stop its blind support for the occupation”, Haniyya stated, “We ask them not allow the continued killing of children, women and old people by American weapons used by Israeli on Palestinian and Lebanese lands”.

Israel to allow aid planes to land at Beirut airport over international concern
Khaleej Times 7/25/2006
JERUSALEM - Israel said on Tuesday it will allow planes carrying aid to land in Beirut, amid growing international concern about the humanitarian situation in Lebanon two weeks in to Israel’s deadly offensive. “With advance coordination Israel would allow airplanes carrying humanitarian aid to land at the Beirut airport,” said a statement from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office after his talks with visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Beirut airport, the country’s only international airport, has been bombed in repeated Israeli air strikes since the offensive was unleashed on July 12 although it can still be used by some planes. “Israel will allow a ground corridor from Israel into Lebanon for the transfer of international assistance for the Lebanese population,” the statement said...

Asean calls for ceasefire
AlJazeera 7/25/2006
Southeast Asian nations have called for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East and have condemned Israel's "excessive" military operations in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank. Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the Malaysian prime minister and the current chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), said on Tuesday that the situation threatened international peace and security. "The United Nations Security Council should take action to call for an immediate ceasefire, deploy a United Nations peace-keeping force to implement the ceasefire and prevent an invasion of Lebanon," Abdullah said as he opened the bloc's annual meeting of foreign ministers in Kuala Lumpur. "We should not tolerate Israel's excessive military reprisals against Lebanon. "

Military Intelligence Chief: Syrian army now at its highest state of alert
Ha'aretz 7/25/2006
Syria has placed its military at its highest state of alert in recent years, Israel Defense Forces Intelligence Chief Major General Amos Yadlin told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday. Syrian forces do remain, however, on a defensive rather than offensive alert. Yadlin emphasized that "neither Syria nor Israel are interested in a military clash but the situation is explosive and the events may potentially be incorrectly interpreted. This could entangle Syria up in a battle against us. "Hezbollah is interested in opening another front for Israel with Syria, Yadlin said. Hezbollah gunners are firing at the Golan Heights in an effort to embroil Syria in the fighting.

'The focus should be on Damascus'
AlJazeera 7/24/2006
"I advocate attacking Syria – to some extent we are wasting ammunition in Lebanon. " -- Efraim Inbar: Arab states have failed to make the transition to modernity -- Efraim Inbar, a professor of political science at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, says Israel's priority is to stop Hezbollah's rocket attacks on Israel and then disarm the group. But he questions whether Israel is taking the right actions to achieve this goal.... He is director of the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies and also a columnist for the Jerusalem Post. Aljazeera net: What are the Israeli goals in Lebanon? Efraim Inbar: The goals are simple: To remove the missile threat to Israel, to push Hezbollah out of South Lebanon and to try to damage its military capability as much as possible.

AG Mazuz: Israel carrying out 'military operations,' not at 'war,'
Ha'aretz 7/26/2006
Israel is still not legally at war with Lebanon, even though it is conducting large-scale ground operations on Lebanese territory, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz said on Tuesday. According to Mazuz, the correct definition of Israel's current offensive is "military operations" rather than war, as he defined it in a previous opinion 10 days ago. "The attorney general's position regarding the definition of these operations has not changed," the Justice Ministry told Haaretz. "The Israel Defense Forces' operations in Lebanon are covered by the relevant principles of international law, and the operations are carried out under the close supervision of the military prosecution. "Mazuz himself keeps tabs on events by participating in various governmental forums that deal with the ongoing fighting.

Court petition: Olmert must declare war
YNet News 7/25/2006
Meretz-Yahad Chairman Yossi Beilin demands High Court order government to officially declare state of emergency, so residents of north can be properly compensated for war damages -- Chairman of Meretz MK Yossi Beilin filed a petition to the High Court of Justice Tuesday against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's failure to officially declare the war in Lebanon, thus preventing northern residents from being able to collect compensation for war damages according to the law. Beilin demanded that the court order the Olmert government to declare a state of emergency. According the Beilin, the government was shirking its duty of orderly management and its financial obligation to reimburse households negatively affected by the war.

Palestinian in Israeli Knesset: the answer is in the mind, not in occupation, tanks & destruction
Palestine News Network 7/25/2006
A Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset sent an urgent message to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert asking him to stop manufacturing war with Lebanon. “War is crazy,” the MP said Tuesday. His message included a clear statement, “Stop killing civilians and destroying the infrastructure; stop the repression, stop the systematic destruction in Palestine and Lebanon. Both peoples desire to live a free and decent life. ” Parliament Member ‘Tala Al Sane wrote in his letter, “There is an alternative option to aircraft and tanks. The option is reason. The option gives life and instills hope and does not leave death as an option, which sows hatred and anger. The occupation forces use everything from tanks and planes and guns, but they do not use the mind... "

Analysis: Is the criticism of IDF's military intelligence justified?
Ha'aretz 7/26/2006
The IDF was surprised a number of times by Hezbollah, but some officers say the gov't ignored warnings. -- Moshe Arens is worried. The man who was defense minister for three terms when Israel controlled southern Lebanon, believes the current campaign there is being badly conducted. Unless there is a swift change, he warns, Hezbollah could come out of the conflict without being trounced. "This will be a disaster for Israel. Nasrallah will be seen in the world as someone who fired thousands of Katyushas on Israeli communities for weeks and came out unscathed. " This criticism is rejected both in the government and the army.

Protest in Jerusalem against "Woman of War" Condoleezza Rice
Ma'an News 7/25/2006
Jerusalem -- About 200 Jerusalemites met US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, whom they called "woman of war" with posters condemning US support for the Israeli war against Palestine and Lebanon. They called on her to leave the country because the objective of her visit seems to have been only to give Israel more time to finish its aggression. Demonstrators who wanted to hand over a memorandum to Rice in which they called on her to tie a leash on the Israeli war arsenal, were forbidden to do so. The memorandum was handed over to representatives from the US Consulate instead. The demonstrators demanded that Rice immediately leave the region if she has any agenda for the region that is in conflict with the desires of the people of the region.

War Unites Lebanon's Muslims, Christians
Palestine Chronicle 7/25/2006
The sight is a stark difference from events of last year, which saw Muslim-Christian tensions in the wake of the killing of ex-premier Hariri -- BEIRUT — Fleeing the apocalyptic scene in the south, thousands of Lebanese Shiites have found solace in Beirut's Christian neighborhoods whose residents raced to accommodate and cater for the shell-shocked evacuees. "At first, we felt very unwelcome. People frowned at us or made comments on our veils," Labibeh Khorshid told Agence France-Presse (AFP). "But now, we feel overwhelmed. They are giving us clothes, food, medicine and all," said the grateful woman. Her 10-year-old son Tamer is very happy. His eyes sparkle when he recalls the heartfelt stories told to the displaced children by two volunteer women — both Christian.

Morality is not on our side
By Ze'ev Maoz, Ha'aretz 7/26/2006
      There's practically a holy consensus right now that the war in the North is a just war and that morality is on our side. The bitter truth must be said: this holy consensus is based on short-range selective memory, an introverted worldview, and double standards.
     This war is not a just war. Israel is using excessive force without distinguishing between civilian population and enemy, whose sole purpose is extortion. That is not to say that morality and justice are on Hezbollah's side. Most certainly not. But the fact that Hezbollah "started it" when it kidnapped soldiers from across an international border does not even begin to tilt the scales of justice toward our side.
     Let's start with a few facts. We invaded a sovereign state, and occupied its capital in 1982. In the process of this occupation, we dropped several tons of bombs from the air, ground and sea, while wounding and killing thousands of civilians. Approximately 14,000 civilians were killed between June and September of 1982, according to a conservative estimate. The majority of these civilians had nothing to do with the PLO, which provided the official pretext for the war.
     In Operations Accountability and Grapes of Wrath, we caused the mass flight of about 500,000 refugees from southern Lebanon on each occasion. There are no exact data on the number of casualties in these operations, but one can recall that in Operation Grapes of Wrath, we bombed a shelter in the village of Kafr Kana which killed 103 civilians. The bombing may have been accidental, but that did not make the operation any more moral.

Why Israel is Losing the War in Lebanon
By Ashraf Ismail, Palestine Chronicle 7/25/2006
      The logic of power politics implies that a no-win situation for Israel is a definite loss, because Israel is the stronger party and thus has the most to lose.
     The world is witnessing what could be a critical turning point in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Israel is now engaged in a war that could permanently undermine the efficacy of its much-vaunted military apparatus.
     Ironically, there are several reasons for believing that Israel’s destruction of southern Lebanon and southern Beirut will weaken its bargaining position relative to its adversaries, and will strengthen its adversaries’ hands.
     First, Israel has no clearly defined tactical or strategic objective, and so the Israeli offensive fails the first test of military logic: there is no way that Israel's actions can improve its position relative to Hamas or Hizballah, much less Syria or Iran.
     The logic of power politics also implies that a no-win situation for Israel is a definite loss, because Israel is the stronger party and thus has the most to lose. In an asymmetric war, the stronger party always has the most to lose, in terms of reputation and in terms of its ability to project its will through the instruments of force.
     The lack of any clearly defined objective is a major miscalculation by Israel and its American patron.
     Second, Israel cannot eliminate Hizballah, since Hizballah is a grassroots organization that represents a plurality of Lebanese society. Neither can Hamas be eliminated for the same reason. By targeting Hizballah however, Israel is strengthening Hizballah's hand against its domestic rivals, such as the Maronite Christians, because any open Christian opposition makes them look like traitors and Israeli collaborators.

Israel’s War Against Lebanon’s Shi‘a
By Jim Quilty, Middle East Research and Information Project 7/25/2006
      When Israel undertook its aerial and naval bombardment of Lebanon on July 12, one announced goal was to recover two Israeli servicemen seized by Hizballah in a cross-border raid earlier that day. The attacks upon civilian infrastructure -- beginning with Beirut International Airport and continuing with ancillary airstrips, bridges and roads, as well as port facilities in Beirut, Jounieh, Amshit and Tripoli -- were necessary, Israeli officials claim, to prevent Hizballah from smuggling the prisoners out of Lebanon.
     Israel cites a different reason for the incessant targeting of Beirut’s southern suburbs (the dahiya), and villages and towns in the Bekaa Valley and south Lebanon. In language adopted uncritically by the Western media, these areas are said to be “Hizballah strongholds” that house key meeting places for the Islamist party’s political and military leadership and harbor batteries of the rockets that Hizballah sends flying into northern Israel. According to Lebanese officials, the bombing focused on the dahiya, the Bekaa and the south has killed over 380 Lebanese, the vast majority of them civilians, and displaced another 500,000-750,000. Most of the dead and displaced are Shi‘a, since the air raids have been concentrated in predominantly Shi‘i regions.
     In the name of “hitting Hizballah infrastructure,” Israel has bombed power stations, a lighthouse, dairies and factories, trucks ferrying medical supplies from Syria, minivans packed with fleeing Lebanese refugees, cellular phone towers and television broadcast transmitters. The latter strikes knocked out transmissions of Hizballah’s al-Manar network, but two other major channels as well.
     All the justifications aside, the battle plan makes it clear that, with its campaign to “neutralize” Hizballah, Israel, with US backing, has reentered Lebanese politics. The idea, over the long term, seems to be to utilize Lebanon’s heightened sectarian tensions to help bring Hizballah’s military capacity into line with the conventions of international law. At the same time, as per President George W. Bush’s repeated statements, Israel and the US hope not to “weaken” the Lebanese government. Making sure the government will not collapse was likely the real purpose of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s “surprise” visit to Beirut on July 24. But, particularly as the war proceeds, Israel’s meddling through bombing may be more than the feeble Lebanese state can bear.

Israeli Cluster Munitions Hit Civilians in Lebanon
Human Rights Watch 7/24/2006
      Israel Must Not Use Indiscriminate Weapons
     (Beirut, July 24, 2006) – Israel has used artillery-fired cluster munitions in populated areas of Lebanon, Human Rights Watch said today. Researchers on the ground in Lebanon confirmed that a cluster munitions attack on the village of Blida on July 19 killed one and wounded at least 12 civilians, including seven children. Human Rights Watch researchers also photographed cluster munitions in the arsenal of Israeli artillery teams on the Israel-Lebanon border.
     “Cluster munitions are unacceptably inaccurate and unreliable weapons when used around civilians,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “They should never be used in populated areas.” According to eyewitnesses and survivors of the attack interviewed by Human Rights Watch, Israel fired several artillery-fired cluster munitions at Blida around 3 p.m. on July 19. The witnesses described how the artillery shells dropped hundreds of cluster submunitions on the village. They clearly described the submunitions as smaller projectiles that emerged from their larger shells. The cluster attack killed 60-year-old Maryam Ibrahim inside her home. At least two submunitions from the attack entered the basement that the Ali family was using as a shelter, wounding 12 persons, including seven children. Ahmed Ali, a 45-year-old taxi driver and head of the family, lost both legs from injuries caused by the cluster munitions. Five of his children were wounded: Mira, 16; Fatima, 12; ‘Ali, 10; Aya, 3; and `Ola, 1. His wife Akram Ibrahim, 35, and his mother-in-law `Ola Musa, 80, were also wounded. Four relatives, all German-Lebanese dual nationals sheltering with the family, were wounded as well: Mohammed Ibrahim, 45; his wife Fatima, 40; and their children ‘Ali, 16, and Rula, 13.
     ....Human Rights Watch conducted detailed analyses of the U.S. military’s use of cluster bombs in the 1999 Yugoslavia war, the 2001-2002 Afghanistan war, and the 2003 Iraq war. Human Rights Watch research established that the use of cluster munitions in populated areas in Iraq caused more civilian casualties than any other factor in the U.S.-led coalition’s conduct of major military operations in March and April 2003, killing and wounding more than 1,000 Iraqi civilians.

Depleted Uranium and US-Israeli Bombs
By Dr. Doug Rokke, PhD, Media Lens 7/24/2006
      Depleted Uranium Situation Worsens Requiring Immediate Action By President Bush, Prime Minister Blair, and Prime Minister Olmert
     The delivery of at least 100 GBU 28 bunker busters bombs containing depleted uranium warheads by the United States to Israel for use against targets in Lebanon will result in additional radioactive and chemical toxic contamination with consequent adverse health and environmental effects throughout the middle east.
     Today, U.S., British, and now Israeli military personnel are using illegal uranium munitions- America's and England's own "dirty bombs" while U.S. Army, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Defense, and British Ministry of Defence officials deny that there are any adverse health and environmental effects as a consequence of the manufacture, testing, and/or use of uranium munitions to avoid liability for the willful and illegal dispersal of a radioactive toxic material - depleted uranium.
     The use of uranium weapons is absolutely unacceptable, and a crime against humanity. Consequently the citizens of the world and all governments must force cessation of uranium weapons use. I must demand that Israel now provide medical care to all DU casualties in Lebanon and clean up all DU contamination.
     U.S. and British officials have arrogantly refused to comply with their own regulations, orders, and directives that require United States Department of Defense officials to provide prompt and effective medical care to "all" exposed individuals. Reference: Medical Management of Unusual Depleted Uranium Casualties, DOD, Pentagon, 10/14/93, Medical Management of Army personnel Exposed to Depleted Uranium (DU) Headquarters, U.S. Army Medical Command 29 April 2004, and section 2-5 of U.S. Army Regulation 700-48. Israeli officials must not do so now.
     Dr Rokke is former Director, U.S. Army Depleted Uranium project

Israelis Bomb Fleeing Villagers
By Robert Fisk, CounterPunch 7/24/2006
      They are in the schools, in empty hospitals, in halls and mosques and in the streets. The Shia Muslim refugees of southern Lebanon, driven from their homes by the Israelis, are arriving in Sidon by the thousand, cared for by Sunni Muslims and then sent north to join the 600,000 displaced Lebanese in Beirut. More than 34,000 have passed through here in the past four days alone, a tide of misery and anger. It will take years to heal their wounds, and billions of dollars to repair their damaged property.
     And who can blame them for their flight? For the second time in eight days, the Israelis committed a war crime yesterday. They ordered the villagers of Taire, near the border, to leave their homes and then - as their convoy of cars and minibuses obediently trailed northwards - the Israeli air force fired a missile into the rear minibus, killing three refugees and seriously wounding 13 other civilians. The rocket that killed them is believed to have been a Hellfire missile made by Lockheed Martin in Florida.
     Nine days ago, the Israeli army ordered the inhabitants of a neighboring village, Marwaheen, to leave their homes and then fired rockets into one of their evacuation trucks, blasting the women and children inside to their deaths. And this is the same Israeli air force which was praised last week by one of Israel's greatest defenders - Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz - because it "takes extraordinary steps to minimize civilian casualties.
     Nor have the Israelis spared Sidon. A heap of rubble and pancaked walls is all that is left of the Fatima Zahra mosque, a Hizbollah institution in the centre of the city, its minaret crumbled and its dome now sitting on the concrete, a black flag still flying from its top. When Israeli warplanes came early yesterday morning, the 75-year-old caretaker had no time to run from the building; he died of his wounds hours later. His overturned white plastic chair still lies by the gate. The mosque is unlikely to have been used for military purposes; a school belonging to the Hariris, Sidon's all-powerful Sunni family, stands next door; they would never have allowed weapons into the building.

The Shame of Being an American
By Paul Craig Roberts, CounterPunch 7/23/2006
      Do you know that Israel is engaged in ethnic cleansing in southern Lebanon? Israel has ordered all the villagers to clear out. Israel then destroys their homes and murders the fleeing villagers. That way there is no one to come back and nothing to which to return, making it easier for Israel to grab the territory, just as Israel has been stealing Palestine from the Palestinians.
     Do you know that one-third of the Lebanese civilians murdered by Israel’s attacks on civilian residential districts are children? That is the report from Jan Egeland, the emergency relief coordinator for the UN. He says it is impossible for help to reach the wounded and those buried in rubble, because Israeli air strikes have blown up all the bridges and roads. Considering how often (almost always) Israel misses Hizbollah targets and hits civilian ones, one might think that Israeli fire is being guided by US satellites and US military GPS. Don’t be surprised at US complicity. Why would the puppet be any less evil than the puppet master?
     Of course, you don’t know these things, because the US print and TV media do not report them.
     Because Bush is so proud of himself, you do know that he has blocked every effort to stop the Israeli slaughter of Lebanese civilians. Bush has told the UN “NO.” Bush has told the European Community “NO.” Bush has told the pro-American Lebanese prime minister “NO.” Twice. Bush is very proud of his firmness. He is enjoying Israel’s rampage and wishes he could do the same thing in Iraq.

Do People Know How Much We Hurt?
By Najla Said, CounterPunch 7/23/2006
      How do I even start this? How do I write about my Beirut? My heartbreak, my home, my safety, my loss. again.
     I suppose I just start.
     I have experienced true terror a handful of times. The first was in 1983. The first time I evacuated Beirut. We had gone to visit my jiddo Emile, my teta Hilda, as we did every summer. Just after we arrived,the airport was shut down, Israeli soldiers were everywhere, the mountains were filling with smoke. We spent the next week in the staircase of our building as shells fell around us. My brother Wadie was almost hit by shrapnel.
     My father, Edward, was in Switzerland. He knew we were in danger. I had no idea he wasn’t with us because he was Palestinian. I didn’t understand. Although I was born in 1974, I never knew about the war until the summer of ’82 -- the first summer we didn’t go. The summer we spent in Illinois. I did cartwheels in the living room trying to get Mommy and Daddy’s attention. But all they did was watch the news and eat nuts and look worried. I wish I’d known how my Mommy’s heart was breaking. I know now.
     We got on the boat and fled to Cyprus leaving my family behind. The boat was filled with pilgrims going to Mecca. I didn’t know what they were. I didn’t understand. I didn’t know Muslim or Christian or Jew. I didn’t know anything. I knew fear and I knew confusion. I knew the sound of bombs. An inexplicable sound if you haven’t felt it before, for it is a sound you feel and not a sound you hear. It is TERRIFYING. Your body shakes. You feel helpless and you cry, that’s what happens. No sound effect can really replicate what it feels like when they’re real.

Elegy for Beirut
By Robert Fisk, CounterPunch 7/23/2006
      BEIRUT -- In the year 551, the magnificent, wealthy city of Berytus - headquarters of the imperial East Mediterranean Roman fleet - was struck by a massive earthquake. In its aftermath, the sea withdrew several miles and the survivors - ancestors of the present-day Lebanese - walked out on the sands to loot the long-sunken merchant ships revealed in front of them.
     That was when a tidal wall higher than a tsunami returned to swamp the city and kill them all. So savagely was the old Beirut damaged that the Emperor Justinian sent gold from Constantinople as compensation to every family left alive.
     Some cities seem forever doomed. When the Crusaders arrived at Beirut on their way to Jerusalem in the 11th century, they slaughtered every man, woman and child in the city. In the First World War, Ottoman Beirut suffered a terrible famine; the Turkish army had commandeered all the grain and the Allied powers blockaded the coast. I still have some ancient postcards I bought here 30 years ago of stick-like children standing in an orphanage, naked and abandoned.
     An American woman living in Beirut in 1916 described how she "passed women and children lying by the roadside with closed eyes and ghastly, pale faces. It was a common thing to find people searching the garbage heaps for orange peel, old bones or other refuse, and eating them greedily when found. Everywhere women could be seen seeking eatable weeds among the grass along the roads.

"Stop That Shit!"
By Uri Avnery, CounterPunch 7/25/2006
      A WOMAN, an immigrant from Russia, throws herself on the ground in total despair in front of her home that has been hit by a missile, crying in broken Hebrew: "My son! My son!" believing him dead. In fact he was only wounded and sent to the hospital.
     Lebanese children, covered with wounds, in Beirut hospitals. The funeral of the victims of a missile in Haifa. The ruins of a whole devastated quarter in Beirut. Inhabitants of the north of Israel fleeing south from the Katyushas. Inhabitants of the south of Lebanon fleeing north from the Israeli Air Force.
     Death, destruction. Unimaginable human suffering.
     And the most disgusting sight: George Bush in a playful mood sitting on his chair in St. Petersburg, with his loyal servant Tony Blair leaning over him, and solving the problem: "See? What they need to do is get Syria to get Hizbullah to stop doing that shit, and it's over." Thus spake the leader of the world, and the seven dwarfs - "the great of the world" - say Amen.
     SYRIA? But only a few months ago it was Bush - yes, the same Bush - who induced the Lebanese to drive the Syrians out of their country. Now he wants them to intervene in Lebanon and impose order?
     31 years ago, when the Lebanese civil war was at its height, the Syrians sent their army into Lebanon (invited, of all people, by the Christians). At the time, the then Minister of Defense Shimon Peres and his associates created hysteria in Israel. They demanded that Israel deliver an ultimatum to the Syrians, to prevent them from reaching the Israeli border. Yitzhak Rabin, the Prime Minister, told me then that that was sheer nonsense, because the best that could happen to Israel was for the Syrian army to spread out along the border. Only thus could calm be assured, the same calm that reigned along our border with Syria.

At the heart of the Lebanon crisis lie the lethal mistakes of George Bush
By Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian 7/26/2006
      Instead of pursuing a Middle East peace deal, the White House's big idea has been to bomb people into democracy
     It was meant to be over by now. This time last week Israeli military planners were demanding another 72 hours to finish the job: that's all they needed, they promised, to clear southern Lebanon of Hizbullah. Yet the enemy has proved stubborn. Despite two weeks of bombardment, Hizbullah's formidable arsenal remains in place. Yesterday they fired yet more rockets - 60 of them - deep into Israel, reaching the city of Haifa and killing a teenage girl in the Arab village of Maghar.
     This persistence is causing the first rumblings of Israeli disquiet. Why are the Katyushas "still coming, and killing?" asks one Israeli columnist. Are the Israel Defence Forces losing their edge, asks another, wondering if "instead of an army that is small but smart, we are catching glimpses of an army that is big, rich and dumb". The top brass deny they have been surprised by Hizbullah's strength. They expected nothing less, they say - not least because Iran has been supplying the movement with more than $100m worth of arms. Which would explain the serious hardware, including long-range missiles, at Hizbullah's disposal.
     So far none of this has eroded the astonishingly high level of Israeli public support for the war. I spoke yesterday to a "refusenik", an Israeli soldier whose principles compelled him to spend a month in jail rather than serve in the West Bank or Gaza. Even he was clear: "We had no choice but to hit back." This is not about defending occupied territory, because Israel is not an genuine occupier in Lebanon. This is, he says, about defending the country from a proxy army of a state, Iran, that is committed to Israel's destruction.

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