Sunday, August 06, 2006

Hezbollah launches rocket blitz against Israel, killing 15 in Haifa and Kibutz Kfar Gileadi..and Lebanon rejects the UN ceasefire draft

(L) Rockets hit Haifa

(Bottom) Injured being evacuated from the rubble, Haifa

Hezbollah launched what can only be described as a blitz on Israel today.They fired at least 250 rockets across northern Israel, killing 15 Israelis and injuring over two hundred people.

Three people were killed when Hezbollah scored hits on 7 residential buildings in Haifa and emergency teams had to dig victims out of rubble. And a dozen Israeli reservists were killed when an Israeli reservist unit unloading trucks outside Kibutz Kfar Gileadi near Kiryat Shemona took a direct hit, killing 12 soldiers and injuring 13.

The rockets were launched from Burj Rahal northeast of the Lebanese port of Tyre, and were promptly taken out by the IAF, but not before the rockets were launched in a coordinated strike.

The attacks were designed to send a hardline message to Israel, the US and the UN regarding the proposed cease fire draft, which Lebanon,with five Hezbollah ministers in its cabinet has already rejected.

The Beirut government is demanding an immediate ceasefire, a complete Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, Lebanese terrorist prisoners to be released and that the strategic Syrian Shebaa Farms/Mount Dov area held by Israel under the previous UN agreement be placed under UN control.

The text agreed to by the US and France calls for a full – though not immediate – cessation of fighting, allows Israeli troops to stay in place for the time being and demands that Hizballah halt all attacks and Israel stop all offensive military operations, which allows Israel to take defensive action if attacked.

The resolution asks Israel and Lebanon to agree to `a set of principles' to achieve a long-term peace, which involves an arms embargo to block any entity in Lebanon except the government from obtaining weapons from abroad, the disarmament of Hezbollah per Resolution 1559, the creation of a buffer zone up to the Litani River and the delineation of Lebanon’s borders.

The Arab League foreign ministers will hold a meeting in the Lebanese capital Monday, Aug. 7th to try and work out a legitimate response to the US-French UN draft which the Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri, head of the Shiite Amal, said Sunday is not acceptable to Lebanon.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mualem is already in Beirut. Speaking to reporters after the meeting with his Lebanese Foreign Minister, Fawzi Salloukh, Moallem said "Syria is ready for the possibility of a regional war if the Israeli aggression continues."

He added that a US-French draft resolution to end the war "adopted Israel's point of view only." Underlining his support for Hizbullah, Moallem said, "as Syria's foreign minister I hope to be a soldier in the resistance."

Salloukh said that "Israel cannot take in peace what it had failed to take in war." and was quoted as saying: "If Israel wants a regional war, that’s fine with us."

From the Israeli side of the fence,Sunday's attacks led to Israeli Defense minister Amir Peretz canceling his scheduled meeting with the visiting US envoy David Welch.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was expected to hold meetings tonight with his cabinet to discuss whether to widen the scope of the offensive in Lebanon.

Originally, Olmert was prepared to more or less wait to see what the UN Security Council and was prepared to curtail Israel's advance to a line south of the Litani River..something the IDF and even Defence minister Peretz disagreed with him on.

Sunday's brutal attacks may change everything, harden Israeli positions and re-open the offensive....

Stay tuned.

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