Israel suspends aerial activity after murdering 56 more

Reply Mon 31 Jul, 2006 03:59 am
The massacre continues, with the majority of the ones killed yesterday being children. Oh yeah, the anti-Zionists are faddists and racists, aren't they? Rolling Eyes

From: AOL news


JERUSALEM (July 31) - Israel suspended air attacks on south Lebanon for 48 hours starting early Monday in the face of widespread outrage over an airstrike on a house that killed 56 Lebanese, almost all of them women and children.

The Israeli defense ministers said Monday that his country will "expand and strengthen" its attack on Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

Israel's top ministers will discuss expanding the army's ground operation at a meeting later Monday, while thousands of reserve soldiers train for the possibility that they will be sent into Lebanon to participate in the battle, senior defense officials said.

"Israel will expand and strengthen its activities against the Hezbollah," Defense Minister Amir Peretz told Israel's parliament, while Arab lawmakers repeatedly interrupted him with calls for an immediate cease-fire.

Meanwhile, the announcement - made by a State Department spokesman with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Jerusalem - appeared to reflect American pressure on Israel to make some concession after the strike.

In addition to suspending air attacks, Israel will also allow the opening of corridors for Lebanese civilians who want to leave south Lebanon for the north and would maintain land, sea and air corridors for humanitarian assistance, officials said.

Israeli officials confirmed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed to an immediate 48-hour halt in the airstrikes beginning at 2 a.m. Monday while the military concludes its inquiry into the attack on the south Lebanese village of Qana. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.

Israeli warplanes struck suspected guerrilla positions in eastern Lebanon near the border with Syria just before the suspension took effect, security officials said. It was not known what was hit in the area, where radical Syrian-backed Palestinian factions have bases.

The officials left open the possibility that Israel might hit targets to stop imminent attacks, and that the suspension could last less than 48 hours if the military completes its inquiry before then.

Lebanon said the Israeli suspension was inadequate.

"There is no cease-fire and there is no cessation of hostilities," Lebanese special envoy Nouhad Mahoud told reporters at the United Nations late Sunday. "We are looking for something much more than that."

Hezbollah did not announce any reciprocal gestures and there were no reports of rocket attacks on Israel overnight.

The bloodshed in Lebanon prompted Rice to cut short her Mideast mission and intensified world demands on Washington to back an immediate end to the fighting.

In Jerusalem, Rice called the Qana bombing "awful" and said she will push for a cease-fire and a "lasting settlement" in the conflict through a U.N. Security Council resolution this week. It appeared to be her first real call for a quick end to the bloodshed.

"I am convinced that only by achieving both will the Lebanese people be able to control their country and their future, and the people of Israel finally be able to live free of attack from terrorist groups in Lebanon," Rice told reporters Monday before departing for Washington.

A three-story house on the outskirts of Qana was leveled when a missile crashed into it at 1 a.m. Red Cross officials said 56 were killed and police said 34 children and 12 adult women were among the dead. It was worst single strike since Israel's campaign in Lebanon began on July 12 when Hezbollah militants crossed the border into Israel and abducted two soldiers.

The attack in Qana brought Lebanon's death toll to more than 510 and pushed American peace efforts to a crucial juncture, as fury at the United States flared in Lebanon.

The Beirut government said it would no longer negotiate over a U.S. peace package without an unconditional cease-fire.

In Qana, workers pulled dirt-covered bodies of young boys and girls - dressed in the shorts and T-shirts they had been sleeping in - out of the mangled wreckage of the building. Bodies were carried in blankets.

Two extended families, the Shalhoubs and the Hashems, had gathered in the house for shelter from another night of Israeli bombardment in the border area when the strike brought the building down.

"I was so afraid. There was dirt and rocks and I couldn't see. Everything was black," said 13-year-old Noor Hashem, who survived, although her five siblings did not. She was pulled out of the ruins by her uncle, whose wife and five children also died.

Israel apologized for the deaths but blamed Hezbollah guerrillas, saying they had fired rockets into northern Israel from near the building.

President Bush repeated his call for a "sustainable peace" and said: America mourns the loss of innocent life, those tragic occasions when innocent people are killed."

Before the suspension of airstrikes was announced, Olmert told Rice the campaign to crush Hezbollah could last up to two weeks more.

"We will not stop this battle, despite the difficult incidents this morning," he told his Cabinet after the strike, according to a participant. "If necessary, it will be broadened without hesitation."

The U.N. Security Council met in an emergency session Sunday and approved a presidential statement that called for an end to violence in Lebanon and deplored Israel's attack on Qana. But it stopped short of condemning Israel.

After news of the deaths emerged, Rice telephoned Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora and said she would stay in Jerusalem to continue work on a peace package, rather than make a planned visit to Beirut on Sunday. Saniora said he told her not to come.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who earlier supported the U.S. stance, said Washington must work faster to put together the broader deal it seeks.

But Saniora said talk of a larger peace package must wait until the firing stops.

"We will not negotiate until the Israeli war stops shedding the blood of innocent people," he told a gathering of foreign diplomats. But he underlined that Lebanon stands by ideas for disarming Hezbollah that it put forward earlier this week and that Rice praised.

He took a tough line and hinted that any Hezbollah response to the airstrike at the village of Qana was justified.

"As long as the aggression continues there is response to be exercised," he said, praising Hezbollah's leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah for his "sacrifices."

Lebanon demanded an international probe.

Hezbollah said on its Al-Manar television that it will retaliate, vowing, "The massacre at Qana will not go unanswered." It hit northern Israel on Sunday with 157 rockets - the highest one-day total during the offensive - with one Israeli moderately wounded and 12 others lightly hurt, medics said.

Iraq's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, demanded an immediate cease-fire in Lebanon, warning the Muslim world will "not forgive" nations that stand in the way of stopping the fighting.

Lebanese anger was heightened by memories of a 1996 Israeli artillery bombardment that hit a U.N. base in Qana, killing more than 100 Lebanese who had taken refuge from fighting. That attack sparked an international outcry that forced a halt to an Israeli offensive.

In Beirut, some 5,000 protesters gathered downtown, at one point attacking a U.N. building and burning American flags. They shouted "Destroy Tel Aviv!" and chanted for Hezbollah's ally Syria to hit Israel.

In the Gaza Strip, Palestinians stormed a U.N. compound and smashed its windows Sunday during a protest against Israeli airstrikes. Security officials fired into the air to disperse them.

Images of children's bodies tangled in the building's ruins, being carried away on blankets or wrapped in plastic sheeting were aired on Arab news networks.

In Qana, Khalil Shalhoub was helping pull out the dead until he saw his brother's body taken out on a stretcher.

"Why are they killing us? What have we done?" he screamed.

Israel said Hezbollah had fired more than 40 rockets from Qana before the airstrike, including several from near the building that was bombed.

At a news conference in Tel Aviv Sunday night, military officers showed aerial footage taken two days ago of Katyusha rockets being fired near houses in Qana, and of a Katyusha launcher firing missiles and then being driven into Qana and hidden inside a house.

Foreign Ministry official Gideon Meir accused Hezbollah of "using their own civilian population as human shields."

Israel said residents of Qana had been warned to leave. But Shalhoub and others in the village said residents were too terrified to take the road out of the village.

More than 750,000 Lebanese have fled their homes in the fighting. But many thousands more are still believed holed up in the south, taking refuge in schools, hospitals or basements of apartment buildings amid the fighting - many of them too afraid to flee.

Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr disputed allegations that Hezbollah was firing missiles from Qana.

"What do you expect Israel to say? Will it say that it killed 40 children and women?" he told Al-Jazeera television.

Before dawn Sunday, Israeli ground forces backed by heavy artillery fire crossed the border and clashed with Hezbollah guerrillas in the Taibeh Project area, about two miles inside Lebanon. Hezbollah said two of its fighters were killed. Eight Israeli soldiers were wounded.

Some 460 Lebanese, mostly civilians, had been killed in the campaign through Saturday, according to the Health Ministry - before the attacks on Qana. Thirty-three Israeli soldiers have died, and Hezbollah rocket attacks on Israel have killed 18 civilians, Israel said.

Kathy Gannon reported from Qana, Lebanon.
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Reply Wed 2 Aug, 2006 04:42 pm
No one say **** about israel or you are nazi!
well thats the rule.
Funny that Israel is the only state in the world that demands freedom from critique. It is the only state, and this is the absurdity of it, that threatens you with the label of racism if you question its policies.
No other state in the world spews such nonsense.
Can you imagine we should not question the chinese or African dictators, because they would label us chinese or black haters?
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