Thursday, July 13, 2006

Iran, Syria and Lebanon to blame say Israel

The escalation of violence in the Middle East is making the prospect of a peaceful resolve ever more distant. Overnight Israeli planes bombed Lebanon’s only international airport at Beirut, Israel citing that it was a transit point for arms and ammunition. As the bombardments against the militants continue, many civilians are also being caught up in the cycle of violence. The BBC reported that more than 80 Palestinians had died in Gaza since the recent Israeli incursions began. Although some militants had been dispatched by these raids, many civilians and police had also died. In one attack yesterday an air attack targeting a Hamas leader killed nearly an entire family in an adjacent building. The Hamas militant was said to have escaped with minor injuries. In the overnight raids on Lebanon at least 27 were reported killed [BBC]. Israeli warships have now imposed a blockade around Lebanon but their actions have only strengthened the resolve of Hezbollah and Hamas who have stated that Israel are ‘deluded’ if they believe such actions will free the captured soldiers. Israel has also suffered casualties in their attempt to free the three military personnel. Yesterday’s raids saw the deaths of 8 Israeli soldiers and at least one civilian was killed after a rocket fired by Hezbollah targeted the coastal town of Nahariyah.
Lebanon has insisted that it has no control over the Hezbollah guerrillas [Fox News] but Israel have said that not only the Lebanon, but also Syria and Iran were allied in the war against Israel [Fox News]. Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa denied his country had a role in either of the abductions and instead blamed Israel. "For sure, the occupation (of the Palestinian territories) is the cause provoking both the Lebanese and Palestinian people, and that's why there is Lebanese and Palestinian resistance," he said. There has been no word from Iran or Syria. But support for Israel’s stance came from the White House late Wednesday. A statement read "The United States condemns in the strongest terms this unprovoked act of terrorism, which was timed to exacerbate already high tensions in the region and sow further violence. We also hold Syria and Iran, which have provided long-standing support for Hezbollah, responsible for today's violence. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of the Israeli soldiers."
The Al Manar television station in Beirut was also targeted by Israeli planes in an attempt to silence the voice of Hezbollah. But the station remained on the air early Thursday. Six were injured in the raid and at least one employee according to Al Manar Television spokesman Ibrahim Moussawi who spoke to CNN on Thursday morning. The reaction of the world’s media is mixed. The BBC reported. Whilst Austria’s Die Presse said it was right to react to Hezbollah’s “provocation” but The Spanish daily El Pais said the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers in Lebanon by the pro-Iranian Islamist group Hezbollah has stirred up "the hornets nest again". Die Presse also acknowledged the dangers of Israel’s ‘invasion’ of the Lebanon. The paper said the actions only help "prophets of the apocalypse" such as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Die Tageszeitung in Germany said the "pointless escalation" of violence showed that the international community should intervene. "Today we are paying the price for the fact that the US, Europe and the UN did not force Israel and the Palestinians to make concessions a long time ago", the paper said. Spain’s El Pais also called on US and the EU to take “more drastic measures than simple calls for calm”.Speaking in Germany, President George W Bush said, “There are a group of terrorists who want to stop the advancement of peace…We were heading towards a peace-map and the terrorists stepped in to stop it”. “The terrorists [Hamas and Hezbollah] don’t want peace,” he added. Other leaders have also made statements. Angela Merkel of Germany said the kidnapping of the soldiers was “not acceptable”. Bush adding that it was, “a sad situation when there was a chance of two state solution and then we see kidnappings and …quite frankly it’s pathetic, and Israel has a right to defend itself against terrorist attack.” He continued by saying, “Syria must be held to account for its involvement with Hezbollah”. But he said he was concerned over the weakening of the Lebanese government. “Democracy in the Lebanon is a foundation for peace in the area”, he said. But he reiterated Israel’s right to protect itself from terrorist attacks. Not all leaders have been so reserved. The French Foreign Minister has called Israel’s reaction “disproportionate” [Reuters]. "For several hours, there has been a bombardment of an airport of an entirely sovereign country, a friend of France ... this is a disproportionate act of war," Philippe Douste-Blazy told Europe 1 radio station. But besides the rhetoric and statements, little progress has been made in trying to resolve the situation. The Arab League is set to meet in order to find a solution. But the war of words may do little to stop the war on the ground. Posted by Picasa

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