Saturday, July 29, 2006

Israel/Lebanon War Updates

Updated throughout the day.

- Two UN observers have been wounded at their observation post in Lebanon, the BBC reports. This, the day after the UN had decided to pull all of its observers out of Lebanon.

- Israeli airstrikes have blocked the main road between Lebanon and Syria:

An Israeli air strike has closed the main border crossing from Lebanon into Syria, witnesses and officials say.

Missiles hit the road between the two states' immigration posts, but on the Lebanese side, the reports said.

- Israel still refuses to stop bombing so humanitarian concerns in Lebanon can be addressed:

Earlier, Israel rejected a UN call for a three-day truce in southern Lebanon.

The UN said children, the elderly and disabled people were trapped and supplies were short, but Israel said there was no need for a truce as a humanitarian corridor to the area had been opened.

Right. They'll probably bomb it anyway since I've heard Israeli spokespeople accuse Hezbollah of locating their fighters near those corridors.

- Condi's back in the region but she's not likely to get much done besides PR shots.

- Tony Blair faces an 'open revolt' from his cabinet over his stance on Israel.

Tony Blair was facing a full-scale cabinet rebellion last night over the Middle East crisis after his former Foreign Secretary warned that Israel's actions risked destabilising all of Lebanon.

Jack Straw, now Leader of the Commons, said in a statement released after meeting Muslim residents of his Blackburn constituency that while he grieved for the innocent Israelis killed, he also mourned the '10 times as many innocent Lebanese men, women and children killed by Israeli fire'.

He said he agreed with the Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells that it was 'very difficult to understand the kind of military tactics used by Israel', adding: 'These are not surgical strikes but have instead caused death and misery amongst innocent civilians.' Straw said he was worried that 'a continuation of such tactics by Israel could destabilise the already fragile Lebanese nation'.

The Observer can also reveal that at a cabinet meeting before Blair left for last Friday's Washington summit with President George Bush, minister after minister pressed him to break with the Americans and publicly criticise Israel over the scale of death and destruction.

Blair's response? 'I will never apologise for Britain being a strong ally of the US.' Never say never, Tony.

- Australia's Prime Minister, John Howard, came under attack from protesters on Saturday:

Protesters kicked, punched and fired projectiles at John Howard's car on Saturday after the prime minister, who has been supportive of Israel, emerged from a Liberal Party conference in Perth.

About 200 protesters had gathered outside the venue, many waving Lebanese and Palestinian flags. A number of the protesters clashed violently with police as Mr Howard left a Perth hotel after delivering a keynote address to the WA Liberals' state conference.

Two men were later charged - a 21-year-old with obstructing police and a 34-year-old with assaulting police. They are expected to appear in a Perth court on Monday.

Mr Howard had used his conference speech to attack Hizbollah, which is fighting Israel in southern Lebanon.

Of course, this little incident didn't excatly help Howard make his point. Australia has also been invited to join a UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon. We'll see how well that goes over with the Australian public.

more to come...

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