Despite mounting calls from world leaders for a ceasefire, the Israel
Army is adamant that it is not about to stop it's pounding of Lebanon
for at least another week, and is obviously planning a ground assault. Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz said the offensive must continue until Hezbollah is pushed away from the border.
Encouraged by the support is is receiving from Washington, the army is
treating southern Lebanon as it's own private shooting gallery, hitting
cars and buses loaded with refugees heading for relative safety in Tyre
As Condi sets out for the Middle East, aids have made it clear that
calling for a ceasefire in not on her agenda, repeating the insistence
that any ceasefire would have to be preceded by the disarming of the
"Iranian backed Hezbullah". On Friday, Rice rejected international
calls for an immediate ceasefire, saying the world is witnessing "the
birth pangs of a new Middle East".
"A sustainable ceasefire........is sustainable only if we get to the root problem, which is Hezbullah, a terrorist organisation," according to Josh Bolten, President George W Bush's chief of staff.
Meanwhile, the UN's emergency relief coordinator, Jan Egeland, accused
Israel of gross violation international humanitarian law. As he toured
the devastated Haret Hreik distict of Lebanon, which has endured 11
days of bombardment, he described the scene as "horrific", going on to
say, "I did not know it was block after block of houses."
Senior diplomats from Britain, Germany and France arrived in Israel to
urge it towards a ceasefire or at least restraint, prompting Lt Gen Dan
Halutz, Israel's chief of staff to state, "The foreign ministers do not
determine our time limit. The Israeli government does that."
Washington, which supports Israel's declared aim of forcing the
implementation of UN resolution 1559, brushed aside a Syrian offer of
direct talks on the crisis, with senior US "Hawk" John Bolton stating, "Syria does not need dialogue to know what to do; they need to lean on Hezbullah."
With tens of thousands of foreign nationals still trying to get out,
Israel continues to blast all exits out of the country. The death toll
in Lebanon is now well over 380, including three refugees who died when
Israeli warplanes attacked their minibus, and Lebanese photographer
Layal Nejib, 23, who was killed when a missile hit near her taxi in
The continued attacks by Israel have displaced at least 700,000 people
in Lebanon. The Lebanese town of Sidon is packed with about 35,000
refugees, with more pouring in by the hour. Essential supplies such as
food, fuel and even medicines are in seriously short supply. Mayor
Abdul-Rahman al-Bizri told the AP, "There are no supplies reaching us,
not from other nations, nor from the Lebanese government".
POPE Benedict XVI led an international day of prayers for peace in the
Middle East yesterday, calling on the international community "to look
for ways to start negotiations" between the warring parties.
In the mean time, our own Prime Miniature has called on the Australian
Defence forces to lower their standards and allow drug users to enlist
in the military to bolster it's falling recruitment, in preparation to
send more troops to Afghanistan.