Saturday, August 12, 2006

Israel/Lebanon War Updates

Updated throughout the day.

- Hezbollah leader accepts UN ceasefire

Hezbollah's leader has said his group will abide by a ceasefire plan agreed at the UN to end fighting with Israel.

However, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said on TV that Hezbollah would continue fighting as long as Israeli soldiers remained in Lebanon.

The UN resolution called for a "full cessation of hostilities".

But Israel has since tripled its troops in south Lebanon and Israeli radio says some have reached the key strategic target of the Litani River.

Meanwhile, Israel's army chief said that Israeli troops won't actually leave Lebanon until an international force is in place, which is a rather vague statement considering that, according to the UN resolution, UNIFIL troops will be responsible for peacekeeping in southern Lebanon and Halutz has not said how many of those soldiers would actually have to be in place before Israel would withdraw.

- More mixed messages from Israel:

A United Nations-brokered cease-fire would go into effect on Monday morning at 7 A.M., a senior Israeli government official said Saturday afternoon.

By then, Israel Defense Forces troops are expected to reach the Litani River, some 30 kilometers inside Lebanon, with the purpose of cutting off Hezbollah forces further south, toward the border with Israel. In the event that the fighting resumes, IDF forces will then be in a position to move more effectively against Hezbollah militants.

I heard this statement last nite and it bothered me:
Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said Saturday that Israel would press ahead with its military offensive in south Lebanon until the Cabinet approved the cease-fire deal. "The logic would be that even in the framework of this successful outcome, if you hand over to the Lebanese army a cleaner south Lebanon, a south Lebanon where you have Hezbollah removed from the territory, that makes their [the Lebanese] troubles a lot easier," Regev said.

Cleaner. Cleansed. Not a nice picture. Especially since those who have been cleansed from the area are innocent Lebanese civilians who have either been killed or displaced. That just sends chills up my spine.

The more I read about the results of this UN resolution, the more I wonder just exactly what was settled.

Haaretz Diplomatic Correspondent Aluf Benn reports that an agreement reached between Israel and the United States on the disputed Shaba Farms area, located on Israel's border with Lebanon, enabled a breakthrough in reaching a cease-fire resolution at the United Nations on Friday.

In letters exchanged between U.S. and Israeli leaders, U.S. officials assured Israel that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan would be authorized to determine whether the area belongs to Lebanon or Syria, but that the future status of the territory would only be determined in negotiations between Israel and Farms' rightful owners.

A senior government source said that Israel would not be obligated to withdraw from Shaba Farms, even if Annan's investigation determines that they belong to Lebanon.

Annan has 30 days to make a decision, but it looks like Israel won't go along with it anyway, so what's the point of that excercise in futility?

- As'ad, the angry Arab blogger, believes Lebanon shouldn't accept the resolution and provides a point by point breakdown of his objections.

- One of the most important points in all of this is that the issue of Israel's aggression in the occupied Palestinian territories is not even mentioned. It has, of course, been addressed in numerous previous UN resolutions which Israel has chosen to ignore. And what drives terrorists like bin Laden to continue his rampage? His objection to the treatment of the Palestinians - which has been his raison d'etre for decades. So, until that issue is addressed, OBL and others will still have fuel for their worldwide campaign. Palestine: the situation that no one even seems to want to discuss anymore - much to the detriment of the world's citizens everywhere.

- Siniora in Saturday's Guardian: 'Put an end to the aggression'

- Resources:
Open Lebanon: Real-time news & blogs
toot: The Arab blog network

- The Lebanese government has voted unanimously to accept the UN resolution with some noted reservations:

An official source said the "unanimous reservations ... came because resolution did not condemn large-scale Israeli destructions in Lebanon." "It was also vague about the issues" of the Lebanese prisoners in Is jails and the Israeli-occupied Shebaa farms, a border area seized by Israel from Syria and now claimed by Lebanon with Damascus' approval, he said.

- Thousands protest war in Lebanon outside Israeli consulate in Toronto

Some protesters expressed their anger with the Canadian government's stance on the war with signs reading "Stephen Harper War Monger."

While some refused to lend their support for Hezbollah, a group commonly referred to as terrorists, many agreed that Israel should pull out of Lebanon.

That's an interesting interpretation, isn't it? "Some refused to lend their support for Hezbollah" if, out of the thousands of people there, only "some" were not supporters of Hezbollah? Biased much, Canadian Press?

- Ha'aretz reports:

Twenty-four Israel Defense Forces soldiers were killed and another 11 seriously wounded in heavy clashes Saturday with Hezbollah forces in south Lebanon, after Israel dramatically expanded its ground operation in the area.

Five air crewmen were believed to be dead after an Israel Air Force helicopter was shot down by Hezbollah fire late Saturday, the IDF said. Hezbollah claimed the helicopter was struck by an anti-tank missile. IDF sources confirmed a helicopter had gone down and that the five crewmen were missing.
Sources in the IDF General Staff said four to seven days would be needed to complete the occupation of the area.

A ceasefire on Monday morning? Not bloody likely...

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