Monday, August 07, 2006

40 - Oh, I mean 1.....

I wonder if this will actually get any coverage, guess not since it is buried in the following article.

"Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said Monday that one person was killed in an Israeli airstrike on the southern village of Houla, not 40 as he had earlier reported."

Lebanon proposes plan to end violence
Two Israeli strikes kill 17 people; Hezbollah fires 140 rockets

Monday, August 7, 2006; Posted: 9:47 p.m. EDT (01:47 GMT)

BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- Israeli strikes shook Beirut at daybreak and nightfall on Monday, while Lebanon proposed changes to a draft U.N. resolution aimed at halting the Israel-Hezbollah conflict that left some 800 people dead.

Lebanon's government agreed to dispatch 15,000 troops to its southern border as part of a peace agreement if Israeli troops leave the country, a government spokesman said late Monday.

Lebanon's proposed changes would have Israeli troops hand over their current positions to the U.N. Interim Force In Lebanon as they withdraw. UNIFIL would then give control to Lebanese forces.

As the Lebanese Cabinet convened, an Israeli strike hit a south Beirut street on the edge of the city's mostly Christian eastern district, killing 10 people and wounding 65, security sources said.

The strike hit a building near a mosque in the upscale southern suburb of Shiyah, officials with the security forces said.

It was not clear whether the blast was the result of an Israeli airstrike or shelling from warships off the Lebanese coast. The Israel Defense Forces has not said what it was targeting.

Video of the scene, aired on Lebanese TV, showed rescuers digging for survivors in the rubble of the collapsed building.

The strike came shortly after Israel warned residents south of Lebanon's Litani River to stay off roads after 10 p.m., Israeli military sources said. The IDF warned residents it "intends to intensify its attack against Hezbollah."

Earlier Monday, an Israeli airstrike killed at least seven civilians near the southern city of Sidon, Lebanese officials said.

The IDF in recent days had dropped leaflets on Sidon, urging civilians to evacuate.

Israeli warplanes also struck the southern suburbs of Beirut, a Hezbollah stronghold, shortly before dawn.

Israel is attempting to establish a buffer zone between Israel and the Litani -- about 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the border -- to halt the Hezbollah cross-border rocket attacks.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said Monday that one person was killed in an Israeli airstrike on the southern village of Houla, not 40 as he had earlier reported.

Lebanese media reported 65 survivors were pulled from the rubble, more than half of them children.

The airstrikes, which pummeled Houla's Hamamir neighborhood near the main mosque, destroyed at least six homes and caused fires to engulf the area, a law enforcement source said.

The IDF said it has warned residents for the past two weeks to leave.

CNN crews in the southern Lebanese port of Tyre reported hearing "a series of heavy explosions" south of the city early Monday.

The area has been a launching point for Hezbollah's Katyusha rockets, about 140 of which were fired into Israel on Monday, the Israeli military reported.

Israeli commandos Monday raided an apartment complex in Tyre that they had attacked two days earlier, The Associated Press reported. Five people were feared dead in Monday's attack.

Israeli commandos also landed on a hilltop south of Tyre, Lebanese security officials told AP. About 30 commandos fought Hezbollah in close combat in a bid to destroy rocket launchers, the officials said.

The AP reported that Israeli attacks killed 49 people Monday, noting that such tallies have been difficult to confirm.

Two Israeli soldiers were killed by an antitank missile in fighting near the southern Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil, while a third died battling Hezbollah in the same area, the Israel Defense Forces reported.

And the IDF said its troops suffered more casualties near the town of Debel late Monday, but no details were released.

Israel also said it had shot down a Hezbollah drone on Monday.

Monday was the 27th day of fighting. So far the conflict has resulted in 98 Israeli deaths, including 35 civilians, the IDF said; in Lebanon, security forces put the death toll at more than 715, most of them civilians.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in a taped address to an American Jewish charity, said Israel was prepared to pay "a terrible price" to battle Hezbollah now rather than face a strengthened foe later.

Olmert called on the "solidarity and partnership" between Jewish communities overseas and the people of Israel for support.

Disagreement on U.N. approach

Siniora's Cabinet, which includes two ministers from Hezbollah, made its decision on troop deployment unanimously, ministers said.

The deployment of Lebanese national troops to the south is part of the U.S.- and French-backed peace plan under discussion at the United Nations. Hezbollah has effectively controlled southern Lebanon since Israel withdrew in 2000.

But Siniora's government has objected to other elements of the plan, arguing that it does not call for an immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanese territory or resolve other outstanding Israeli-Lebanese disputes.

Monday's proposal does not call for Hezbollah to disarm, but the Cabinet said it would allow only Lebanese government troops and U.N. peacekeepers to operate south of the Litani River, Finance Minister Jihad Azour said.

Israel has long supported the idea of Lebanon's army taking control of the border from Hezbollah. But Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said Israel expects to see details presented at the United Nations, questioning whether Hezbollah would be disarmed.

An Arab League delegation was heading to the United Nations to request changes in the draft peace plan before the Security Council votes on the proposal.

The current plan would have the Security Council call for an end to the fighting, followed by a second resolution later that would establish an international peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon.

Lebanon prefers a single resolution that would deal with a cease-fire and all of the political issues rather than a two-phase approach that the Lebanese Embassy's charge d'affaires in Washington, Carla Jazzar, said would give Hezbollah a pretext to continue fighting.

The Lebanese proposal calls for Israel to hand over the disputed territory of Shebaa Farms to the United Nations, "pending delineation of the border."

And it would bolster UNIFIL rather than creating a new peacekeeping force with more robust rules of engagement.

CNN's Paula Hancocks and Matthew Chance contributed to this report.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Raising Martyrs in Southern Lebanon

'We are ready to strap explosives to our children and send them to Israel'
By Colin Freeman in Tyre
(Filed: 30/07/2006)

Nayfa Muhanna's childbearing days are long over, her husband having taken a second wife to produce the younger half of his huge clutch of 16 children.

Now, though, after Israeli -helicopter missiles destroyed the family farmhouse and wiped out their entire tobacco crop, she finds herself feeling broody again.

"It is our duty as mothers to start producing more boys to help the resistance," she said, to cheers from other residents in their refugee camp in the -southern Lebanese city of Tyre, where all 19 family members pitched up a fortnight ago. "We want them to be martyrs for their country in the fight against Israel."

Nobody could accuse the family of not doing its bit for the "Party of God".

Asked about the fighting in their village of Majdel Zoun, just a few miles from the Israeli border, Nayfa, 47, proudly mentions that her brother "disappeared" that day - not a suggestion that he is buried under rubble, but a coded way of stating that he has slipped off to join Hezbollah's forces.

The next time she sees him he may well be in a coffin. Yet, if so, there appears to be no shortage of family members willing to replace him on the front line. "I am very excited about defending my country," said her oldest son Mahdi, who is just 15. "If I do not, and others do not, then who will?"

After two weeks of Israel's military offensives on the southern Lebanese border, a whole new generation of youngsters like Mahdi is being groomed to follow in their uncle's footsteps.

Mahdi has dreamed of joining Hezbollah ever since he was 10, yet until two weeks ago the "enemy" has never been more than a vague presence at border fences.

Now, though, he and thousands of other children who are too young to remember the last major Israeli incursion 10 years ago have witnessed a new one first-hand, yielding a fresh crop of traumatised young minds that Hezbollah's propaganda machine can mould.

The Israeli army psy-ops leaflets airdropped into the border villages, which caricature Hezbollah leaders as cowardly snakes who send followers needlessly to the slaughter, are unlikely to win them over, especially not with so many of their parents spurring them on.

"We are ready to strap explosives to our children and send them to Israel," said Naim Mussalmani, 35, a farmer who fled the village of Shaitiah, on Tyre's outskirts. "My own brother exploded himself against the Israelis in 1998. Our women and children are ready to go out and fight if needs be."

In the past two weeks, the normally peaceful Mediterranean holiday resort of Tyre has been flooded with refugees fleeing the farming villages dotting the Israeli border as they become battlegrounds for fierce clashes between Hezbollah guerrillas and their Israeli foes.

The port city offers limited security as a safe haven: the crash of Israeli ordnance into the surrounding hillsides shakes Tyre's buildings relentlessly, and the sky over the deserted luxury marina hums constantly with jets and drone spyplanes.

Town Hall officials estimate that more than two thirds of Tyre's population of 270,000 have fled the city, leaving it more deserted than a rundown holiday resort in midwinter.

Shops are shuttered, rubbish lies festering in stinking piles, and the only signs of life are in the schools and government buildings where villagers from the border areas have sought safety.

With few humanitarian convoys able to reach them because of damage to the main road from Beirut, living conditions for the diaspora are grim. The luckier ones are crammed into long established Palestinian refugee camps, while the less fortunate are billeted in school classrooms, living off aid packages and with little access to washing facilities.

Worst off are those still trapped in the villages, unable to access even Tyre's meagre sanctuary because of the house-sized scoops that Israeli missiles have gouged in the narrow country roads.

Yet, despite the privations it has caused, there is little tangible sign of the Israeli campaign undermining support for Hezbollah.

Among those from the villages, where nearly every house flies a Hezbollah flag, nobody queries the movement's fateful decision to kidnap two Israeli soldiers, nobody blames it for the death and destruction it has provoked, and nobody even expects the organisation to look after them in the consequent chaos.

"The Government of Lebanon is not taking care of us properly," said Mr Mussalmani. "We have to look to our Palestinian brothers, who are refugees of Israeli aggression themselves, to help us out.

We do not ask Hezbollah for medicine or help. That is needed for their fighters, who are giving their blood for the nation. The whole of southern Lebanon are now ready to become martyrs."

The women standing around him in headscarfs shouted their agreement.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Photos that damn Hezbollah

Chris Link
July 30, 2006 12:00am

THIS is the picture that damns Hezbollah. It is one of several, smuggled from behind Lebanon's battle lines, showing that Hezbollah is waging war amid suburbia.

The images, obtained exclusively by the Sunday Herald Sun, show Hezbollah using high-density residential areas as launch pads for rockets and heavy-calibre weapons.

Dressed in civilian clothing so they can quickly disappear, the militants carrying automatic assault rifles and ride in on trucks mounted with cannon.

The photographs, from the Christian area of Wadi Chahrour in the east of Beirut, were taken by a visiting journalist and smuggled out by a friend.

They emerged as:

US President George Bush called for an international force to be sent to Lebanon.

ISRAEL called up another 30,000 reserve troops.

THE UN's humanitarian chief Jan Egeland called for a three-day truce to evacuate civilians and transport food and water into cut-off areas.

US SECRETARY of State Condoleezza Rice returned to the Middle East to push a UN resolution aimed at ending the 18-day war, and:

A PALESTINIAN militant group said it had kidnapped, killed and burned an Israeli settler in the West Bank.

The images include one of a group of men and youths preparing to fire an anti-aircraft gun metres from an apartment block with sheets hanging out on a balcony to dry.

Others show a militant with AK47 rifle guarding no-go zones after Israeli blitzes.

Another depicts the remnants of a Hezbollah Katyusha rocket in the middle of a residential block blown up in an Israeli air attack.

The Melbourne man who smuggled the shots out of Beirut and did not wish to be named said he was less than 400m from the block when it was obliterated.

"Hezbollah came in to launch their rockets, then within minutes the area was blasted by Israeli jets," he said.

"Until the Hezbollah fighters arrived, it had not been touched by the Israelis. Then it was totally devastated.

"It was carnage. Two innocent people died in that incident, but it was so lucky it was not more."

The release of the images comes as Hezbollah faces criticism for allegedly using innocent civilians as "human shields".

Mr Egeland blasted Hezbollah as "cowards" for operating among civilians.

"When I was in Lebanon, in the Hezbollah heartland, I said Hezbollah must stop this cowardly blending in among women and children," he said.