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UN slams block on aid as fighting rages
Cat : International Conferences
Date : 2006-08-13 20:32:36                      Reader : 304

till the point to wish destroying of UN building . Bolton already said . If UN does not follow US policy , US will work alone with its monopole policy outlined by Israel.


Associated France Press (AFP) 13/8/2006

UN slams block on aid as fighting rages


by Taher Abu Hamdan
RASHAYA, Lebanon (AFP) - Israeli troops, backed by tank units, battled Hezbollah fighters in south Lebanon as the United Nations criticized both sides for blocking aid supplies to 120,000 stranded civilians.

Israel said it had put on hold plans to broaden its month-old offensive against the Shiite Muslim guerrillas to give diplomats at UN headquarters in New York a chance to redraft a ceasefire resolution.

But there was no let-up in hostilities. Israeli warplanes dropped leaflets on Shiite districts of Beirut telling residents to get out immediately and a gunboat hit an old lighthouse in the first direct strike on the heart of the capital in three weeks.

UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland blamed both sides for aggravating a crisis that has left almost one million people homeless in Lebanon, some of them cut off in the south, which Israel wants to turn into a buffer zone against rocket attack.

"It’s a disgrace really because the parties to the conflict, Israel and Hezbollah, could give access in a heart beat, and then we could help 120,000 people in southern Lebanon," Egeland told a news conference in Geneva.

"If there’s one thing that will be the most critical -- even more critical than food -- over the next days and weeks, it’s fuel."

Four hospitals in the south of the country have run out of fuel needed for generators that are crucial for surgery and stocking drugs, Egeland said.

The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Jakob Kellenberger, said on Thurday after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that he had received personal commitments from him that "that everything possible will be done to facilitate access for our teams on the ground."

In Beirut, panic-stricken residents of three Shiite-inhabited districts fled for safety after Israeli jets dropped leaflets telling them to leave. One of the areas, Shiyah, was bombed by Israel on Monday, killing 32 people.

"You must immediately evacuate these areas, and evacuate all areas from which Hezbollah elements carry out terrorist acts," the leaflets said.

Some packed into cars carrying mattresses and suitcases, while others waited desperately for taxis to take them to safer areas.

The threat to the suburbs came after Israel said it had delayed a major new ground offensive to drive the Shiite Muslim Hezbollah out of south Lebanon.

Israeli Public Security Minister Avi Dichter said the timing of a new offensive "depends to a great extent on what is happening in New York," where the UN Security Council struggled to negotiate a ceasefire resolution.

The White House said divisions between council members, Lebanon and Israel made it impossible to set a date for a vote, but it warned the warring parties against any "escalations" in a conflict that has killed more than 1,000 civilians in Lebanon in a month and nearly 40 in Israel.

But in Paris, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said a deal was immiment on a draft resolution to end the conflict.

UN Secretary General Koffi Annan, meanwhile, called on the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution by the end of the week, a spokesman said.

Annan "reiterates his call that the fighting must stop to save civilians on both sides from the nightmare they have endured in the past four weeks."

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned that south Lebanon would become a "graveyard" for the Middle East’s most powerful army if it invaded.

A Lebanese army officer said an Israeli armoured column entered Marjayun, a major town about 10 kilometres (six miles) inside Lebanon, and that troops were occupying a building inside the Lebanese army barracks.

The Lebanese army has so far stayed on the sidelines of the conflict, which began on July 12 when Israel launched a massive air, land and sea offensive against Lebanon after Hezbollah captured two of its soldiers.

The government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora has offered to deploy 15,000 troops north of the frontier to help enforce a UN ceasefire resolution, provided Israeli forces pull out immediately hostilities come to an end.

On Wednesday, Israel’s security cabinet approved army plans to pour more troops into south Lebanon and gave Olmert and Defence Minister Amir Peretz the authority to decide when to start the broader offensive.

The same day, Nasrallah warned that the Israeli army faced far higher casualties if it expanded its assault on Lebanon.

"I tell the Zionists that you can invade but this will be very expensive," he said in a television broadcast.

"You will not be able to stay on our land ... we will transform our dear south into the graveyard of the Zionist invaders and if there is no other way than a confrontation then welcome to the large-scale ground operation."

On Wednesday, the Israeli army confirmed it had lost 15 soldiers in its biggest single-day toll of the conflict, taking to 80 the number of troops killed since start of the campaign.

On Thursday, Lebanese police reported that four Israeli tanks were destroyed and burnt near Marjayun. Hezbollah’s television channel Al-Manar said 13 or 14 tanks had been knocked out.

Police said an Israeli armoured column was locked in fierce fighting at nearby Khiam, where Hezbollah guerrillas were still dug in and firing anti-tank rockets, hours after Israeli artillery rained about 1,000 shells on the town.

In Israel, military sources said powerful anti-tank missiles manufactured by Russia and Iran were being used with deadly effectiveness by Hezbollah against the Israeli army in southern Lebanon.

Medical relief agency Doctors Without Borders (known by its French initials MSF) said it would defy an Israeli threat to bomb all vehicles moving south of Lebanon’s Litani River -- a region which includes the port of Tyre.

"To forbid all forms of movement, without distinction, will lead to even more civilian deaths and suffering," MSF’s international president Rowan Gillies said.

But the UN World Food Programme said it had cancelled plans to send convoys to south Lebanon.

Despite its military superiority, Israel’s armed forces have found it much harder than expected to crush Hezbollah and to quell its deadly rocket attacks.

Most of the residents of the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona have left in the first evacuation of an entire town since the creation of Israel in 1948.

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