Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Situation in Lebanon grim

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Rice’s ploy has been to stall calling for a cease-fire to allow Israel more time for its attacks on Hezbollah in Lebanon. In the meantime, while claiming to want a cease-fire (under conditions that make it impossible), the US is rushing additional shipments of bombs and missiles to Israel. War & Piece sums up the news reports nicely:

Qana. AP: “Israeli missiles hit several buildings in a southern Lebanon village as people slept Sunday, killing at least 56, most of them children, in the deadliest attack in 19 days of fighting. … The missiles destroyed several homes in the village of Qana as people were sleeping. Rescue officials said at least 50 people were killed, and the bodies of 27 children were found in the rubble. [UPDATE: latest AP figure is 34 children] … Jordan’s King Abdullah II condemned ‘the ugly crime perpetrated by Israeli forces in Qana,” calling it ‘a blatant violation of the law and all international conventions.”’ British Foreign Secretary Margaret Becket, responding to …[the strike that killed 37 children] said Sunday that the attack was “absolutely dreadful” and “quite appalling.” AP: “[Israeli prime minister Ehud] Olmert expressed ‘great sorrow’ for the airstrikes but blamed Hezbollah guerrillas for using the area to launch rockets at Israel.”

WP: Rice cancels trip to Beirut after airstrike. “In Beirut, following the attack, Lebanese government officials said Rice was not welcome. Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said he would not hold talks with Rice until a ceasefire is called. … Appearing defensive and somewhat shaken, Rice told reporters traveling with her in Jerusalem that she had called Siniora to delay her visit in light of events.” In Beirut, “Protesters angry over an Israeli air strike in Qana that killed up to 50 refugees broke into the main UN building in the Lebanese capital Sunday, burning UN and American flags. …[Protesters] pushed through police barricade, smashed windows and broke inside the building. Outside, demonstrators chanted slogans against Israel and the United States and denounced Arab governments for not doing enough to stop Israel’s 19-day bombardment of Lebanon.”

Ha’aretz: “Qana was the scene of an April, 1996, in which Israeli shelling of a base of United Nations peacekeepers in Qana killed more than 100 civilians sheltering there during Operation Grapes of Wrath. The international outcry over the 1996 Qana village shelling effectively ended the operation.”

The Qana tragedy comes as the IDF has reportedly been ordered to accelerate its offensive and expand its target list as the diplomatic clock ticks down:

The deal being put forth by Rice is for the deployment in Lebanon of an “international stabilization force” comprising 10,000 to 30,000 troops in return for Israel’s withdrawal from the controversial Shaba Farms, on the western slopes of Mount Hermon. …

Rice did not ask Olmert during their meeting to end the fighting at this stage, but it is assumed at the Defense Ministry that the Israel Defense Forces has 7 to 10 days to continue its operation in Lebanon.

By Wednesday the U.S. would like to gain approval for a new Security Council resolution that will call for an end to hostilities.

Israel sources estimate the U.S. will allow a few more days for mopping up operations by the IDF.

According to the sources, the General Staff has received orders to accelerate its offensive on areas close to the border in order to deepen any possible attack on the Hezbollah before the declaration of a cease-fire.

It seems from Rice’s post-Qana statements today the IDF may have fewer days than that. AP: “‘We want a cease-fire as soon as possible,’ said Rice, during one of her strongest statements yet on the need to end the conflict.”

Written by Leisureguy

30 July 2006 at 8:46 am

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