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Israeli carries out ground attack in Lebanon, UN warns of 'catastrophe'
Cat : Nazism
Date : 2006-07-19 12:04:25                      Reader : 266

They have nothing to do with axe of evil, but axe of good and mercy . The axe of justice and freedom. UN must end targeting Nazi crimes of Israel against civilians in Lebanon.

 

 
Associated France Press (AFP) 19/7/2006
Israeli carries out ground attack in Lebanon,
UN warns of ’catastrophe’
 
 
by Nayla Razzouk

BEIRUT (AFP) - Israeli troops conducted a limited ground assault across the Lebanese border to carry out "pinpoint" raids against Hezbollah outposts, a military source said, as hundreds of foreigners fled and the UN warned civilians left behind faced a humanitarian "catastrophe."

"Our forces have been operating since this morning over our border with Lebanon. These are limited and pinpointed actions aimed at eliminating the threat of Hezbollah near the border," an Israeli military source said.

"The forces are penetrating into Lebanon and pulling out when their mission is accomplished... We’re not talking about any large-scale incursion," the source added.

"The situation is both alarming and catastrophic. There are about 500,000 people displaced already. The situation is extreme," the representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund ( UNICEF) in Beirut, Roberto Laurenti, told AFP.

An Israeli general said the military had destroyed around 50 percent of the rocket and missile supplies of the Lebanese-based Shiite militia.

"We have already destroyed around 50 percent of the rockets and missiles that Hezbollah had," General Alon Friedman told army radio.

"Our air force will continue their attacks to stop supplies (in rockets) from Syria reaching Hezbollah," he added.

Asked about an end to the fighting, Friedman said only: "Unfortunately it won’t be tomorrow".

At least 45 people were killed, many trapped under the rubble of flattened homes, as Israeli jets and gunboats pummelled towns and villages in Lebanon on the eighth day of a conflict that shows no signs of ending despite a flurry of international diplomatic activity.

Close to 300 people have been killed in Lebanon since Israel unleashed a massive military offensive it says is aimed at destroying the Hezbollah guerrilla group after the capture of two soldiers eight days ago.

As the attacks continued the foreign exodus gained pace with three ships carrying about 1,500 British and other European nationals arriving in Cyprus.

A British naval warship carrying about 170 mainly British nationals described as "priority medical cases" docked in the southern Cyprus port of Limassol at around 7 am (0400 GMT).

Britain, like other European states and the United States, is planning a full-scale evacuation as the fighting in Lebanon intensifies, many using Cyprus -- which lies just 100 miles (160 kilometres) away -- as the hub of their operations.

"This is the first of a number of vessels coming to Cyprus. It is going to be a major effort in the next couple of days. The main thing is to get people out as soon as possible," British High Commissioner Peter Millett said.

"We have planning figures to get between 4,000 to 5,000 Britons through Cyprus," he said as the HMS Gloucester docked in Limassol.

A Norwegian boat carrying about 1,100 people also arrived from Beirut in the southeastern city of Larnaca, as well as a Greek frigate carrying about 270 people, mainly Greeks and Greek-Cypriots.

A US-chartered cruise liner is also due in Cyprus later Wednesday in the first mass evacuation of Americans from Beirut, after a limited number citizens were flown in by helicopter to Cyprus.

The 750-passenger Orient Queen had left from Cyprus Tuesday with US naval vessels deployed in the area to ensure safe passage on the way to and from Lebanon, which is under Israeli air and sea blockades.

The Americans plan to charter more vessels from Larnaca to evacuate thousands of the estimated 25,000 American citizens in Lebanon.

The United Nations said it was evacuating all non-essential staff from the country.

Prime Minister Fuad Siniora accused Israel of "committing massacres against Lebanese civilians and working to destroy everything that allows Lebanon to stay alive".

"The intensifying aggression in this barbaric way proves that Israel has decided to push Lebanon back 50 years," he said.

But Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert defended the relentless bombardment, saying it was aimed at obtaining the release of two Israeli soldiers and the disarmament of Hezbollah in line with an existing UN resolution.

He told visiting UN envoys trying to broker a ceasefire that "Israel will continue the battle against Hezbollah and will continue to strike targets belonging to the group until it obtains the release of its captured soldiers and restores the security of Israeli citizens."

As the European Union and the United States prepared to send envoys to the region, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan outlined plans for an international force for Lebanon that he said should be "considerably larger" than the current 2,000-strong UN peacekeeping force.

But Israel -- which has always rejected the deployment of foreign forces in its conflict with the Palestinians -- said it was "too early" to discuss such a possibility.

The US State Department has said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would travel to the region although she was unwilling to be drawn on a specific date for such a trip, saying she would only come when it is "helpful".

US President George W. Bush again lashed out at Syria, amid fears the conflict in Lebanon and Gaza could spread across the region.

"There are suspicions that the instability created by the Hezbollah attacks will cause some in Lebanon to invite Syria back in," Bush said, referring to the withdrawal of Syrian forces last year after a 39-year presence.

"In order to be able to deal with this crisis, the world must deal with Hezbollah, with Syria, and to continue to work to isolate Iran," the president said.

"Syria is trying to get back into Lebanon it looks like to me," he said, referring to the pullout of Syrian troops Lebanon after a three decade presence last year.

Rice told Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, head of the Maronite Catholic church in Lebanon, on Tuesday that Americans were praying for Lebanese civilians.

"We are, of course, working very hard to minimize the impact of the current conflict on the Lebanese people," the State Department quoted Rice as saying in the telephone conversation.

"And I want you to know that we’re not only working very hard, but we’re also praying for the people of Lebanon," she was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army said it had destroyed four trucks travelling from Syria with weapons and munitions destined for Hezbollah fighters in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon.

An AFP journalist saw that one of the lorries was transporting medicine from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Another had been carrying vegetable oil, which spilled over the road, a third had a cargo of provisions and the fourth was empty.

Meanwhile Turkish diplonats in Beirut said that a Turkish truck carrying cooking oil was also destroyed by Israeli fire in the Bekaa valley on Tuesday.

The UAE also denounced the bombarding of one of their humanitarian convoys.

 
 
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