Skip to comments.Lebanon Stares Into The Abyss
Posted on 07/16/2006 5:15:32 PM PDT by blam
Lebanon stares into the abyss
By Tim Butcher in Beirut, Harry de Quetteville in Haifa, Alec Russell and Graeme Wilson in St Petersburg
Your view: Are Israel's military tactics justifiable?
In pictures: Beirut under siege
Tens of thousands of civilians, many on foot, fled southern Lebanon last night as Israeli forces appeared ready to launch a ground invasion.
Tanks and armour were reported to be massing on the border and a reserve infantry division mobilised as the air force dropped leaflets warning residents to leave.
"We recommend them to leave their homes and go to the north of the country, because in two or three hours we are going to attack the south of Lebanon heavily," said Maj Gen Udi Adam, Israel's northern commander.
Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, said after a cabinet meeting that his country would stop at nothing to end the threat from Iranian-backed Hizbollah militants. As the conflict intensified, world leaders at the G8 summit in St Petersburg managed to bridge an international rift on the crisis and issued a statement blaming Hizbollah and setting out conditions for a ceasefire.
At least 26 people, including eight with dual Canadian/Lebanese citizenship, were killed by Israeli artillery and bombers, bringing the number of deaths in five days to more than 120.
Western countries stepped up efforts to evacuate their citizens, although Britain was accused of dragging its feet in rescuing its passport holders.
Many of Beirut's 300,000 residents followed instructions to stay near bomb shelters and reinforced rooms. Others jammed the roads as they tried to escape.
Israel launched its latest attacks hours after eight civilians were killed when Hizbollah rockets slammed into a railway workshop in Haifa, the third largest city in Israel.
The incident shocked the nation and increased fears that Hizbollah had acquired the weaponry to fire deeper inside Israel than ever before.
Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the Hizbollah leader, making his first appearance since the Israeli offensive began, said his guerrillas were "in their full strength and power" and that the battle had just begun.
A tired-looking but strident Nasrallah said on Hizbollah's Al-Manar TV that his "missile stockpiles are still full. . . our capacity to launch is still much, much, much more".
He threatened "surprises" for the Israelis if they returned to southern Lebanon in large numbers for the first time since 2000 when they ended their 18-year occupation. He also issued a warning of an extended confrontation.
"We are just at the beginning," he said.
Amir Peretz, Israel's defence minister, toured the site of the Haifa attack, declaring an "emergency home front" which compelled essential workers in sectors from slaughterhouses to banks to attend their jobs. "We do not plan to end this war before reality is transformed," he said. "The terrorists will no longer be sitting on our northern border."
The G8's shaky consensus blaming Hizbollah and elements of the Palestinian group Hamas for provoking the crisis was reached after hours of diplomatic horse-trading. Its statement stopped short of naming Iran and Syria, which Israel and America have blamed for fomenting the crisis. It also urged Israel to show the greatest restraint in its campaign and to strive to avoid civilian casualties.
Only 24 hours after the international community had appeared bitterly divided, the wording was a diplomatic victory for America and its allies, including Israel. The statement called on Hizbollah to halt its attacks at once.
"These extremist elements and those that support them cannot be allowed to plunge the Middle East into chaos," it said. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, made clear that the first two essential conditions for a ceasefire were for Hizbollah to free the two Israeli soldiers it kidnapped in a border raid last Wednesday and to halt its rocket attacks.
"We demand first that the Israeli soldiers be returned to Israel healthy, that the attacks on Israel cease and then naturally for Israel to halt military action," she said.
The G8's planned discussions on energy, security and the global economy were sidelined by urgent diplomatic negotiations.
Early in the day, the host, Vladimir Putin, of Russia, had put himself squarely at odds with the United States by accusing Israel of having ulterior motives for its assault.
President George W Bush has staunchly supported Israel, repeatedly stressing that Hizbollah had caused the crisis, blaming its old sponsors Iran and Syria and backing Israel's right to retaliate. Tony Blair stood firmly behind Mr Bush's tough line, in particular the desire to name Iran and Syria despite Russian and French opposition.
In an interview with BBC1's Politics Show, he said: "The truth is, there is an arc of extremism right across that region that wants to disrupt the process towards democracy and freedom, whether it's in Iraq or in Lebanon or down in the Palestinian territory. That arc of extremism is being supported by countries like Iran and Syria."
However, the Prime Minister's spokesman tried to play down the naming of Syria and Iran, saying last night that the statement had criticised the "extremist elements and those that support them".
Does Lebanon harbor, condone, and support terrorists?
Lebanon will learn this quickly.
They should have known it, now they have to be taught.
The sources of the problem are in Damascus and Tehran.
Now that's about as much IN YOUR FACE as you can get. can you imagine if one of our Generals had written something like that. you know, come to think of it, I think we did. LOL
Love it when Israel gets serious. Damn glad they're friends of ours!
Anyone who gets these brave and determined hornets riled up that "one step too many" seriously wants to commit suicide
They have been living in the Abyss
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