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Author Topic: Israel, the mid-east, and Russia - Part 2  (Read 9225 times)
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« on: July 15, 2006, 03:37:21 PM »

Fox News crew shot at in Gaza

FOX News reporter David Lee Miller was shot at by Israeli troops while reporting from Gaza. The exchange, shown in this clip, between the anchors and the correspondents on the ground is very telling of the ostrich mentality at FOX News. Two of the three anchors, thousands of miles away from the incident, attempt to excuse Israel: "If you're somebody and you're a long ways away and you just see something and you don't know who it is, sometimes you just start shooting". One is utterly incredulous: "Really?" After exiting the scene with his crew, the journalist, David Lee Miller, had time to put together that the shots originated from the Israeli position several hundred yards away.


Partial transcript of the incident

FOX HOST: Palestinian Prime Minister, Mahmoud Abbas, says, "Israeli's incursion into Lebanon could start a regional war." We got David Lee Miller there, live, in central Gaza. David Lee, I see you have your flak jacket on. What's happening?

DAVID LEE MILLER: Right now, Brian, fortunately, not a great deal. We're on the outskirts of Abala[sic] but yesterday at this very location -- in the city here -- some 12 Palestinians were killed. At least half of them, according to local sources, were militants. One of them was also a policeman and this is normally a very busy roadway. This is Sala Adini[sic] street. This is the main artery that cuts through the Gaza strip. It goes from the very bottom to the very top of the script. As you can see for yourself, it is a ghost town at this hour. Not a single car is on this road. The reason for that, the Israelis have effectively now, they have cut Gaza in half. There is a strong Israeli presence here. This is the first time that there Israeli troops in Gaza since the withdrawal last summer. And just over my shoulder, off in the distance -- you can't see it in camera range -- there are Israeli tanks. There are Israeli tanks and there has been some military activity from shelling and for that reason, as you point out, we are wearing the flak jackets.

[..]

MILLER: ...and despite this action in Gaza City, targeting the Foreign Ministry building that is all but gutted at this hour, militants in Gaza today did continue to launch rockets from the northern part of the strip, over the border into nearby Israeli towns and... whoa! We just go fired at. That's the end of this [broadcast], I think. I don't know if you guys can still hear us.

HOST: Go... Do what you need to do.

MILLER: I guess we're still on the satellite here.

HOST: David, do what you need to do to be...

MILLER: someone... fire at us.

HOST: Where... Where...

MILLER: Yes?

HOST: [unintelligible]

MILLER: You see the camera shot don't you guys?

HOST: Right. Get into a safe place.

MILLER: I think... It sounded... Yeah, we're actually hunkered down behind our vehicle... it's difficult to ascertain who fired that shot. A single shot but...

HOST: It's ok.

MILLER: Oh, someone's firing. I think we are going to boogie out of here. I... but as we do that -- before we just rush into the car, we don't want to make any sudden movements here. We're going to get into the vehicle guys.

HOST: Ok. Hold on... David, David, get in the car. Get in the car. Go. We'll come back to you later.

MILLER: We're going to get into the vehicle guys. Get in the vehicle... We're in the... You know... Ok, it's difficult to tell who's firing at us. Again, I don't know if we're still up on the satellite.

HOST: David, is that an armored car?

MILLER: Overhead we can, over... We're in an armored car. That affords us a great degree of protection. Another concern that we do have in this location, is that overhead, we can hear off in the distance -- again, it's difficult to ascertain how far in the distance -- an Israeli drone aircraft. And it is from those aircraft that the Israelis have launched a number of airstrikes. So, that is an additional concern that we have broadcasting from this location. So, again, I don't know how far away that gun fire was. If it was Israeli gunfire it's difficult for us to say. It could just be someone with a weapon. For the most part, the area we're talking to you from is deserted. We still have that camera picture up and there is no one in sight here in front of us. The road is complete empty the buildings are abandoned. On the left side of your screen, just out of camera range, is one of the abandoned Israeli settlements. There is absolutely no one, no one that we can detect. So, at this time what I'd like to do is communicate with my photographer and see if we can get him to safety.... Pierre, are we going to get in the vehicle here and very slowly but deliberately leave the area. Ok, that said... We still hear shots... We're going to take our camera down, guys, and we're going to talk to you from a safer position. We're going to go.
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« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2006, 03:39:18 PM »

Who is Hezbollah?
By John Walcott
McClatchy Newspapers

Iran began trying to export its brand of Islamic rule to Lebanon soon after its own Islamic Revolution in 1979. Its early efforts failed, however, and Hezbollah, the Party of God, was formed by Shiite Muslim clerics only after Israel invaded the country in 1982 to root out Palestinian terrorists. Although it's now a political party that's represented in the Lebanese cabinet, Hezbollah has ignored demands to defuse its military wing, the Islamic Resistance, which has become the most potent military force in Lebanon.

Its goals include destroying Israel, promoting Islamic law and advancing the cause of Lebanon's traditionally disenfranchised and impoverished Shiites, who are the largest religious community in a country long dominated by a Christian and Sunni elite.

Backed by Syria and Iran, Hezbollah's initial aim was to drive the Israelis out of Lebanon. But after American, British, French and Italian troops were sent to Beirut in 1982 to help restore order after Israel's Christian Lebanese allies massacred hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of Palestinians in two Beirut refugee camps, Hezbollah began attacking them, as well.

In 1983, suicide bombers destroyed the American Embassy in Beirut and the U.S. Marine headquarters at Beirut airport; the latter attack killed 241 Americans. Hezbollah terrorists also hijacked TWA Flight 847 and took Americans hostage. Imad Mugniyah, who masterminded the hijacking and many of the kidnappings, remains one of the FBI's most wanted terrorists.

Some Hezbollah members, though, run social welfare programs while their radical colleagues are mounting terrorist operations and attacks on the Israeli military. Funded largely from Iran, Hezbollah has built schools, medical clinics and other facilities in Lebanon's Shiite south, as well as its own television station, al Manar, which the Israelis bombed this month after the group fired rockets into Israel.

Its social programs and its campaign to force the Israelis to withdraw their troops from Lebanon, which they did in 2000, helped make Hezbollah a political force as well as a military and terrorist one. But some Lebanese think the group may now have overplayed its hand by plunging Lebanon into another war.

Who is Hezbollah?
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« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2006, 03:41:01 PM »

Conflict over Mideast, Iran, North Korea stifle U.S., Russian unity
By William Douglas
McClatchy Newspapers

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia - President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to show unity Saturday, agreeing in principle that they need to work together to help defuse the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah and to keep Iran and North Korea from becoming nuclear powers.

But a news conference after the two leaders met on the first day of the Group of Eight economic summit here exposed the divide between them over how to handle the Israel-Hezbollah conflict and how to quash the nuclear ambitions of the Tehran and Pyongyang governments.

U.S. and Russian officials failed to agree on a deal that would help Russia enter the World Trade Organization, a 149-nation group that sets rules for international trade and investment.

And Bush's promised private talk with Putin over his retreat from democratic freedoms in Russia produced a pointed jab at the White House's most ambitious attempt to promote democracy.

"We certainly would not want to have the same kind of democracy as they have in Iraq, I will tell you quite honestly," Putin said to a roomful of laughter.

"Just wait," Bush responded.

The so-called G-8 summit was supposed to deal primarily with energy security and showcase an economically resurgent Russia. But the pressing issues in East Asia and the Middle East and questions about Putin's commitment to political, economic and press freedoms has changed the focus of the annual two-day event.

Bush and Putin denounced the escalating violence in the Middle East spurred by Hezbollah's kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers last week. Israeli forces have been on the offensive ever since, bombing Beirut's airport and other targets. Hezbollah has responded by firing rockets into Israel.

Bush again said that Israel is justified in its actions, and Putin agreed but added a caveat: "At the same time, we work under the assumption that the use of force should be balanced."

On the Iranian and North Korean nuclear problems, Bush said that he and Putin agreed that "we've got to work together to send a common message to both that there is a better way forward."

But both men sidestepped questions about whether Russia would support a United Nations Security Council resolution that imposed sanctions on Iran. Russia, which has a veto in the U.N. Security Council, has expressed opposition to sanctions on both countries.

Putin also has raised fears on both sides of the Atlantic by cracking down on Russian media freedoms, recentralizing political power in the Kremlin and using his country's natural resources to coerce its neighbors.

Bush said he conveyed his concerns to Putin, relaying stories he heard from the Russian civil society leaders he met when he arrived in St. Petersburg on Friday.

"I talked about my desire to promote institutional change in parts of the world like Iraq, where there's a free press and religion, and I told him that a lot of the people in our country would hope that Russia would do the same thing," Bush said.

Putin replied that Russia is committed to expanding freedoms - on its own terms.

" . . . We know for sure that we cannot strengthen our nation without developing democratic institutions, and this is the path we will certainly take," he said. "But certainly, we will do this by ourselves."

U.S. and Russian officials tried to paper over the differences between the leaders by announcing cooperative efforts to bolster international cooperation in tracking potential nuclear terrorists and improve the global response if terrorist obtain a nuclear weapon. The so-called Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, however, merely expands the already established Proliferation Security Initiative, a U.S.-led group of nations that cooperate in seizing dangerous weapons while they're in transit.

Conflict over Mideast, Iran, North Korea stifle U.S., Russian unity
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« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2006, 03:46:25 PM »

Israel: Iran aided Hezbollah ship attack
Posted 7/15/2006 3:09 PM ET
JERUSALEM (AP) — Elite Iranian troops helped Hezbollah fire a sophisticated radar-guided missile at an Israeli warship in a surprise blow by militants who had been using only low-tech weapons, Israeli officials said Saturday.

Israel initially believed that an aerial drone armed with explosives hit the warship, but it became clear that Hezbollah had used an Iranian-made C-802 missile to strike the vessel late Friday, an Israeli intelligence official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information.

Tehran did not respond to the charge, which was not mentioned in Iranian media reports Saturday.

One Israeli sailor was killed and three were missing after the attack. The ship was returning to its home port in Israel, the army said.

About 100 fighters from Iran's Revolutionary Guard helped import, equip and fire the missile at the Spear, a missile ship cruising off the coast of Lebanon, which is under an Israeli naval blockade, Israeli officials said.

Hezbollah was founded by the Revolutionary Guard during Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon. The Islamic republic's elite corps of more than 200,000 fighters is independent of the regular armed forces and directly controlled by Iran's supreme leader.

"We can confirm that it (the ship) was hit by an Iranian-made missile launched by Hezbollah. We see this as a very profound fingerprint of Iranian involvement in Hezbollah," Brig. Gen. Ido Nehushtan told The Associated Press.

The Shiite militant group had been firing only highly inaccurate Katyusha rockets at Israeli targets. Israel appeared surprised that the guerrilla group had more high-tech weapons.

Israeli officials speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information said that Hezbollah also has Iranian-made drones that are more accurate than missiles, as well as longer-range projectiles that could hit Tel Aviv, Israel's commercial hub.

An Israeli military official said the Spear's missile detection and deflection system was not on during the attack, apparently because the sailors did not anticipate such an attack.

The military official said the ship is one of the most technologically advanced in the Israeli fleet, boasting an array of high-tech missiles and a system for electronically jamming incoming missiles and other threats.

Nehushtan said another Hezbollah radar-guided anti-ship missile hit and sank a nearby Cambodian merchant ship around the time the Spear was struck. Twelve Egyptian sailors were pulled from the water by passing ships, Brig. Gen. Noam Fieg said.

Nehushtan said the body of one of the four Israeli soldiers missing in the attack was found on the damaged warship. Other Israeli military officials said two bodies had been found.

Israel launched an offensive after Hezbollah guerrillas crossed the Israel-Lebanon border on Wednesday and captured two Israeli soldiers. Israel has bombarded Lebanon's airport and main roads in the most intensive offensive against the country in 24 years, while Hezbollah has launched hundreds of rockets into Israel.

Israel: Iran aided Hezbollah ship attack
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« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2006, 03:48:16 PM »

Israel accuses Iran of helping Hezbollah

JERUSALEM (AP) - Israel is charging that Iran is giving Hezbollah guerrillas direct support in their war on Israel.

Israel says that support included helping Hezbollah fire an Iranian radar-guided missile yesterday that damaged an Israeli warship and killed at least one sailor. Three others are missing.

An Israeli intelligence official says Hezbollah also has Iranian-made drones, which are more accurate than missiles.

Israeli intelligence officials also say Hezbollah has missiles with ranges of 60 to 120 miles that could reach Tel Aviv, Israel's largest metropolitan area.

One official says Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards have 100 troops in Lebanon.

Hezbollah denies it's getting help from Iran.

Israel accuses Iran of helping Hezbollah
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« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2006, 03:52:57 PM »

Lebanese prime minister calls for U-N-brokered cease-fire

BEIRUT, Lebanon Lebanon's prime minister is calling on the United Nations to broker an immediate cease-fire to end Israel's four-day-old offensive.
In a speech to his nation, the prime minister pledged to reassert government authority all over Lebanese territory. That suggests the possibility of deploying the Lebanese (hez-BUH'-lah) army in the south, an area that's effectively controlled by Hezbollah guerrillas. Such a move would meet a U-S and U-N demand.

Israel launched its massive land, sea and air offensive Wednesday in response to Hezbollah's capture of two Israeli soldiers.

More than 100 Lebanese have died, mostly civilians. On the Israeli side, four civilians and eleven soldiers have been killed.

Lebanese prime minister calls for U-N-brokered cease-fire
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« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2006, 03:58:53 PM »

Turkey slams Israel on Lebanon strike
July 15, 2006    

Turkey, one of the few Muslim allies of Israel, on Friday criticised Israeli air strikes on Lebanon as "inhumane" and "excessive" and urged an immediate ceasefire.

"There is nothing humane or understandable in punishing Lebanon for an act by Hezbollah," Turkish Prime Minister Reccep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in the northeastern city of Ardahan, the Anatolia news agency reported.

"Israel must reconsider its stance," Erdogan added. "In my opinion, Israel is increasingly isolating itself from the world."

Israel launched a relentless bombing campaign on Lebanon two days ago and imposed a blockade on its northern neighbour after the killing and capture of Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah guerrillas, in a flare-up that has raised fears of a regional war.

At least 62 Lebanese civilians have been killed and some 170 injured in the bombings.

"We would be deceiving ourselves if we do not call what is going on there a war...There is an excessive use of force," Erdogan said.

Earlier, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul urged all sides to agree to a ceasefire quickly in order to prevent further escalation in the volatile region.

"I invite everyone to a ceasefire quickly. If a ceasefire is delayed, I see the risk of an escalation and the complete destruction of the opportunity for co-existence," Gul told reporters here.

The Turkish foreign ministry lamented Israel's "use of excessive force" and the civilian victims of raids.

"We call on Israel to stop its military operation at once in order to prevent this dangerous escalation from leading to grave developments. The kidnapped soldiers must be released at once," the ministry said in a statement.

Earlier, the ministry advised Turks to avoid travel to Lebanon in light of the conflict and Gul said his ministry was working to enable to return of Turkish citizens in the region.

Turkey, a non-Arab Muslim nation with a secular system, has been Israel's main regional ally since the two signed a military cooperation deal in 1996.

But ties have gone through cooler periods with the Islamist-rooted Turkish government voicing criticism over the Jewish nation's actions in the region.

Turkey slams Israel on Lebanon strike
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« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2006, 04:01:34 PM »

US, major allies differ in response to Israeli attack
July 15, 2006    

Major US allies have condemned the ferocity of Israel's military attack on Lebanon, revealing a clear split with Washington's moderate call for restraint.

Cries of alarm mounted worldwide after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ordered armed forces to intensify the offensive in response to rockets hitting towns in northern Israel, killing two and wounding 50.

As the civilian death toll in Lebanon mounted above 60 and Israeli warplanes hit buildings, roads and Beirut airport, French President Jacques Chirac questioned whether Israel was seeking Lebanon's destruction.

"One may well ask if there isn't today a kind of wish to destroy Lebanon -- its infrastructure, its roads, its communications, its energy, its airport. And for what?

"I find honestly -- as all Europeans do -- that the current reactions are totally disproportionate," he said in a live television interview on France's national Bastille Day.

Chirac's comments, echoed across most of Europe and in much of the rest of the world, conflicted with US President George W. Bush's dogged defence of Israel's right to defend itself.

Bush has not publicly criticized the scale of the Israeli assault, blaming Lebanese militia group Hezbollah and radical Palestinian Hamas for sparking the crisis.

Hezbollah guerrillas seized two Israeli servicemen Wednesday, leading to Israel's first ground incursion since it ended its occupation of the south of the country in 2000.

Bush telephoned Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, however, vowing to push Israel to limit the damage it is wreaking in Lebanon.

"President Bush asserted that he will exert pressure on Israel to limit damage inflicted on Lebanon through the ongoing military operation," said a statement from Siniora's office.

Around the rest of world, however, leaders bluntly condemned Israel's response.

"In my view, Israel is making a mistake," said Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. "It will only lead to an escalation of the violence."

In Italy, Prime Minister Romano Prodi said he recognized Israel's legitimate concerns and condemned the kidnapping of the soldiers.

But "we deplore the escalation in the use of force, the serious damage to Lebanese infrastructure and the civilian casualties of the raids," the Italian leader added.

The Vatican secretary of state, Angelo Sodano, said: "The Holy See deplores the attack on Lebanon, a free and sovereign country," adding that he felt for the people "who had already suffered in defence of their independence."

Germany called on Israel to consider the longer term impact of its strike on Lebanon.

"On the one hand, Israel has the internationally recognised right to self defence. But at the same time we ask our Israeli friends and partners not to lose sight of the long-term consequences when they exercise this right," German deputy government spokesman Jens Ploetner said.

"Here we think care should be taken about the situation in Lebanon, which is a fragile entity as a state and could be further destabilised," he added.

Already, Israel has imposed an air and sea blockade on Lebanon, shut the only international airport by bombing its runways and damaged the main Beirut-Damascus highway.

Iran, which with Syria is a sponsor of Hezbollah, called on the United Nations to step in. "The international community and the UN must intervene to stop this crime," Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said during a visit to Greece.

In Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim state, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was quoted by the state news agency Antara as saying: "Indonesia repeats its call for Israel to stop its military action."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair called for restraint on all sides but kept closer to the US line.

"I totally understand the desire and the need for Israel to defend itself properly and I also understand the plight of Lebanon and the Lebanese government, not to say the many Palestinians that are suffering as well," Blair said in London.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was meeting with Bush before hosting a summit of Group of Eight powers in Saint Petersburg, said he would formally place the Middle East crisis on the agenda.

"I consider that all sides implicated in this conflict should immediately stop military action," Putin said.

The Norwegian foreign ministry said it had summoned Israel's ambassador to protest over the military strikes.

"We feel the Israeli attacks on Lebanon are completely unacceptable," Norwegian foreign ministry spokeswoman Anne Lene Dale Sandsten said on Norwegian national radio NRK.

Ambassador Miryam Shomrat replied that Israel was acting in self-defence.

US, major allies differ in response to Israeli attack
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« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2006, 04:03:47 PM »

Arab League meets in Cairo over Mideast crisis

15/07/2006 5:47:00 PM

Arab foreign ministers have met in an emergency session in Cairo, facing an uphill battle to contain a Middle East crisis that threatens to engulf more countries in the region.

Arab foreign ministers have met in an emergency session in Cairo, facing an uphill battle to contain a Middle East crisis that threatens to engulf more countries in the region.

The ministers met at the Arab League headquarters for a closed session, and and will reconvene later to adopt a final declaration.

Egyptian public television, quoting diplomats present at the meeting, said the foreign ministers will condemn the Israeli military operations and recommend a diplomatic solution to the crisis, as well as an exchange of prisoners.

Since the capture of two Israeli soldiers by the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah on Wednesday, attacks by the Jewish state on Lebanon have killed dozens of civilians and rained destruction down on infrastructure, including the country's sole international airport in Beirut.

Israel has also been leading a punishing air campaign in Gaza since a teenage Israeli soldier was snatched by Palestinian militants on June 25, sparking the worst Israeli-Palestinian crisis in months.

Both Hezbollah and the Palestinian groups which claimed responsibility for the capture of the Israeli soldier have demanded the release of Arabs detained in Israeli prisons.

But the Arab League meeting comes at a time of profound differences among Arabs on how to confront the situation in the region.

Egypt and Jordan have recongnised Israel and established diplomatic relations with the Jewish state, whereas neighbouring Lebanon and Syria have long been implacable foes of Israel.

On Friday, Jordan's King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak condemned Israeli military aggression in Lebanon but also indirectly criticized Hezbollah for harming Arab interests.

The leaders warned of the risk of "the region being dragged into 'adventurism' that does not serve Arab interests", according to a joint statement published by the Petra news agency after the leaders met in Cairo.

Similar language was used earlier by Saudi Arabia, which indirectly accused the Lebanese Shiite fundamentalist movement Hezbollah of "adventurism" in provoking the Israeli onslaught and putting all Arab nations at risk.

But other Arab states warned of a spiralling crisis in the absence of a strong stance by Arab governments.

"Arab people will sooner or later take matters in their own hands if their governments do not find serious ways to give them hope," Lebanese foreign minister Fawzi Salloukh told participants at the Cairo meeting.

"We count on Arab support, solidarity and assistance and we do not doubt that all Arabs will denounce what is happening in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories," he said after a meeting with Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa Friday.

He said he hoped that the emergency meeting would adopt a resolution where the "Arab nation would regain its grandeur", according to Egypt's official news agency MENA.

On Friday Lebanon called on Arab League member states to help stop the "systematic destruction" of the country.

"Israel seems to be executing a clear and well-programmed plan aimed at destroying Lebanon and its infrastructure in a savage manner," Lebanese President Emile Lahoud said in a letter to Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir, current head of the Arab League summit.

Three United Nations envoys -- Vijay Nambiar, Alvaro de Soto and Terje Roed-Larsen -- sent to Cairo by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis were also due to take part in the Arab League meeting expected to last one day.

Arab League meets in Cairo over Mideast crisis
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« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2006, 04:06:57 PM »

Olmert, Peretz approve further operations in Lebanon

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz concluded a meeting and decided on further IDF operations against targets in Lebanon. Israel hasn't responded yet to Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora's demand for a ceasefire.

Olmert, Peretz approve further operations in Lebanon
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« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2006, 04:09:21 PM »

US vetoes UN resolution urging end to Israeli attacks in Gaza

14/07/2006 2:02:00 AM

The United States vetoed a UN resolution calling on Israel to halt military operations in Gaza, as the Security Council prepared for an emergency debate on escalating violence in Lebanon.

The United States vetoed a UN resolution calling on Israel to halt military operations in Gaza, as the Security Council prepared for an emergency debate on escalating violence in Lebanon.

US Ambassador John Bolton said the veto was a response to the "unbalanced" nature of the draft text which he argued laid a disproportionate amount of blame on Israel for the current crisis in the region.

"Passage would have undermined the credibility of the Security Council, which itself must be seen by both sides as an honest broker in the Middle East conflict," Bolton said.

Ten of the 15-member council voted in favour of the proposed resolution, drafted by Qatar, while four abstained.

The vote came hours after Israeli air strikes on the Palestinian foreign ministry in Gaza, which caused heavy damage and wounded 10 children.

What has become the worst Israeli-Palestinian crisis in months was sparked by the June 25 abduction by Palestinian militant groups, including the armed wing of Hamas, of Corporal Gilad Shalit on the Gaza border.

The vetoed resolution had condemned Israel's retaliatory assault and called for an end to military operations and the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops.

It also condemned the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel and Shalit's abduction.

The United States, Israel's staunchest ally, last used its veto in the Security Council in October 2004, to block a similar draft demanding that Israel end military operations in northern Gaza and withdraw from the area.

Bolton said the United States remained convinced that the best way to resolve the immediate crisis was for Hamas to secure Shalit's "safe and unconditional" release.

The Security Council vote was also shadowed by events in southern Lebanon, where Israeli jets Thursday pounded targets in retaliation for the capture and killing of its soldiers by Hezbollah militants.

Council members will convene a special meeting on Lebanon on Friday morning.

Beirut had requested the debate and called on the Council to "adopt a complete and immediate position for a ceasefire," after Israeli air strikes left at least 46 civilians killed in the deadliest attacks on its territory in a decade.

US President George W. Bush, on an official visit to Germany, blamed Hezbollah and Hamas for the growing violence but also urged Israel not to respond in a way that undermines Lebanon's fragile government.

"Israel has a right to defend herself," Bush said after meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Israel's UN ambassador Dan Gillerman, hailed the "bold" US stand in blocking the Qatari resolution and defended Israeli operations in both Gaza and Lebanon as acts of justifiable self-defence.

"Israel will not be held hostage to terror," Gillerman told Council members as he blasted Hamas and Hezbollah militants for acting as "executioners" for Iran and Syria.

The Palestinian observer to the United Nations, Ryad Mansour, slammed the US veto, saying it would do nothing to resolve the current crisis.

"We are highly disappointed and frustrated at the council's continued inability to act while innocent Palestinian civilians continue to be brutally killed by the Israeli occupying forces," Mansour said.

Just hours before Thursday's Council vote, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan announced that he was sending a three-man crisis team, led by his special political adviser, Vijay Nambiar, to try and defuse the situation in the Middle East.

Speaking to reporters in Rome, Annan told reporters that he was "profoundly worried" by the increase in violence and condemned any attacks on civilians.

Annan's team was to leave for the region Thursday evening for a week-long mission that will begin in Cairo with meetings with Egyptian officials and Arab League foreign ministers.

They are then expected to travel to Israel, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon and Syria.

Annan's deputy spokesperson Marie Okabe said the secretary general had been working the phones with all the major players in the region, including the Syrian and Egyptian presidents and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

"He really is personally very engaged in trying to do his best to calm things down," Okabe said.

US vetoes UN resolution urging end to Israeli attacks in Gaza
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« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2006, 04:12:13 PM »

Ahmadinejabad compares Israel to Nazis
From correspondents in Tehran
16-07-2006
From: Agence France-Presse
 

IRANIAN President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has compared the behaviour of Israel in launching an offensive against Lebanon to that of Nazi Germany.
Mr Ahmadinejad has already received criticism from the UN Security Council for labelling the Holocaust, in which six million Jews died, a myth.

"Hitler sought pretexts to attack other nations," Mr Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by the ISNA students news agency at the inauguration of a Tehran road tunnel.

"The Zionist regime is seeking baseless pretexts to invade Islamic countries and right now it is justifying its attacks with groundless excuses," he added.

Israel's four-day assault on Lebanon has killed at least 103 people, all but four of them civilians. It launched the offensive after Shi'ite Muslim Hezbollah guerrillas kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and killed eight.

Iran is a traditional supporter of Hizbollah. An Israeli military source said overnight an Iranian-made C802 radar-guided land-to-sea missile with a range of 95 km hit and badly damaged an Israeli ship.

Ahmadinejabad compares Israel to Nazis
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« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2006, 04:14:22 PM »

Hezbollah rockets hit Sea of Galilee town
(Reuters)

16 July 2006


JERUSALEM - Rockets fired by Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon struck deeper into Israel than ever before on Saturday, hitting the Sea of Galilee town of Tiberias, and wounding 15 people across northern Israel.

It was the fourth straight day of rocket barrages since fighting erupted after two soldiers were captured on a raid into Israel by Hezbollah militants, who also killed eight Israeli troops in ensuing clashes.

Four Israelis, including a five-year-old child, have been killed and 300 hurt by about 700 rockets fired since Wednesday at an unprecedented number of more than 20 towns. Over 100 Lebanese, mostly civilians, have died in Israeli air raids.

The Hezbollah rocket barrages have sparked widespread panic that has sent thousands of Israelis fleeing the north and many others heading for bomb shelters.

Israeli officials said three barrages of Katyusha rockets slammed into Tiberias, a town about 35 km (22 miles) from the border with Lebanon, injuring eight people and damaging two residential buildings.

“We could not believe this would happen to us. It was very scary. We are frightened and intend to escape with our children,” Ayala Aloni told Israel’s Ynet news Web site after the first rocket hit.

In Karmiel, another Israeli town struck by rockets, the mayor urged residents to stay with relatives in the south of the country until the violence subsides. Several people were injured in an Israeli Arab town across the road from Karmiel on Friday.

Israeli media said Defence Minister Amir Peretz was expected to declare a state of emergency for northern Israel.

Israeli generals urged the public to remain calm in the region where about 750,000 Israelis were under rocket threat, but cautioned it may be weeks until they subside.

“We have to be ready for some more days, perhaps more than that, perhaps weeks, to face this reality,” the Israeli army’s operations chief, Gen. Gadi Eizenkot told reporters in Tel Aviv. ”We have to prepare for a continued campaign, not to panic.”

The army said people living north of Haifa and Tiberias should stay inside buildings below the fourth floor. Radio announcements urged Israelis to avoid travel to northern Israel, and public events have been cancelled.

The Israeli army believes Hezbollah has 10,000 to 12,000 rockets in its arsenal with ranges of 30 to 70 km (18 to 45 miles), suggesting they could reach far beyond Haifa or Tiberias.

Hezbollah rockets hit Sea of Galilee town
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« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2006, 04:19:05 PM »

Middle East stands on the brink of wider conflict

Liz Sly, Christine Spolar and Cam Simpson
July 15, 2006 12:46 PM
Chicago Tribune
(MCT)
Once again, Lebanon is burning. Once again, rockets are raining down on northern Israel. Once again, the region that has seen war erupt on average every six years since 1948 stands on the brink of conflagration, yet this one could engulf the entire Middle East.

As Israel presses its offensive against the Iranian-backed Hezbollah movement deep into Lebanese territory and Hezbollah defiantly launches missiles back over the border, U.S. and Lebanese officials are predicting no early end to a crisis that many fear could rapidly escalate out of control.

With their act of bravado in seizing two Israeli soldiers last week, Hezbollah's guerrillas unleashed a volatile brew of competing agendas, sectarian rivalries and unresolved hostilities that extend far beyond the borders of tiny Lebanon, to include Iran, Syria, the Palestinian territories and the fate of U.S. involvement in Iraq.

''The situation in the Middle East can get out of control very quickly. What seems like a border flare-up can turn into a regional conflict in a matter of days,'' said Michael Oren, a military historian and senior fellow at the Shalem Center, a Jerusalem academic institute.

''I think this can be seen as the beginning of a regional conflict,'' he added. How can you stop it? There doesn't seem to be a diplomatic option.''

The clashes escalated for a third straight day Friday, with Israeli bombs leveling the Hezbollah leader's home and office in crowded southern Beirut and Hezbollah striking an Israeli gunboat off the coast. The violence has dominated President Bush's weekend discussions with leaders of the Group of Eight nations in Russia.

This is not yet a regional war. But in the scope and intensity of Israel's strikes deep into Lebanese territory, the conflict has moved far beyond the usual cross-border spats that regularly embroil Israeli soldiers and Hezbollah guerrillas.

Israel has hinted that Syria could be next unless Hezbollah is restrained. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has warned that an attack on Syria will be viewed as an attack on Iran. Hezbollah has declared that it is ready for ''open war.''

Bush, while calling for Israeli restraint, has declined to call for a cease-fire. That has suggested to some in the region a willingness to let the conflict roll with the chance that it could bloody Hezbollah's nose and, by default, Iran's.

Lebanese officials in Beirut say they believe the United States is unlikely to press for a cease-fire, as the current fighting could weaken the position of Hezbollah and, by proxy, Syria and Iran, according to a senior Lebanese diplomat.

The danger, however, is that Hezbollah will feel pressured to respond with greater force, further escalating the crisis, and possibly drawing Israel into strikes against Syria or Iran, the diplomat said.

In Washington, a senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also said the U.S. was disinclined to seek a cease-fire ''because the Israelis have made it abundantly clear that that's not what they're going to do.''

Instead, he warned that the situation could worsen significantly in the coming days. A ''fairly long and drawn-out process'' lies ahead, he said.

But conflicts in the Middle East have a habit of not only dragging on but also spiraling and this one could easily take on dangerous new proportions, analysts warn.

In Tehran, most ordinary Iranians are convinced that Hezbollah's move was timed to ease pressure on Iran and its nuclear program at the G8 summit and at the United Nations Security Council later this week, said Babak Rahimi, who is on the Iranian and Islamic studies staff at the University of California, San Diego and is currently visiting Tehran.

''That's the rumor here, that the timing of this is not a coincidence,'' he said.

However, the ferocity of Israel's response has caught Iranians off guard, in turn fuelling the convictions of hard-liners who believe U.S. pressure on Iran's nuclear program is just a prelude to an inevitable attack against Iran. ''They're saying this nuclear stuff is just a ploy, and that what is happening shows that their true intention is to attack us down the road,'' Rahimi said.

But pressing the fight against Hezbollah represents a dangerous gamble not only for Israel but for the United States.

One risk is that Lebanon will fragment, reigniting the civil war that ravaged the country for 15 years, and further destabilizing the region. The new government of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora is fractured, weak and in no position to act to restrain Hezbollah.

Notably, this is the same democratically elected government that was hailed last year by U.S. officials after the dramatic Cedar Revolution forced the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon.

For the U.S., there is the additional risk of a backlash in Iraq, where the Israeli assault on Shiite Hezbollah has angered many Iraqis and the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has emerged as one of the most formidable political and military figures in the newly installed and still fragile Shiite-led coalition government.

In visits to Tehran and Damascus earlier this year, al-Sadr pledged the service of his private militia in support of ''any Arab government'' that was attacked by the United States, a remark widely interpreted as a threat to stage another Shiite uprising in Iraq.

''You will see an increase of radicalism in Iran, in Lebanon, and most definitely in Iraq,'' predicted Rahimi. ''I'm sure Muqtada Sadr is enjoying all of this very much.''

There is also a risk for Hezbollah that its bravado could backfire. Its stature as the only militia permitted to carry arms under the terms of the cease-fire agreement that ended Lebanon's civil war is predicated on its role as the defender against Israeli aggression. And the latest clashes with Israel have given Hezbollah the opportunity to assert that role.

But as Lebanese contemplate the prospect of yet another war, some are starting to question the wisdom of allowing the militia to operate unchecked along the Israeli border

''Most Lebanese view Hezbollah's latest operation as a dangerous gamble,'' said an editorial in the Beirut Daily Star. ''Although they do not have much sympathy for the Israelis, who destroyed their country during a brutal invasion and occupation, they do fear Israel's signature brand of retaliation - collective punishment - at a time when their country is already passing through a period of instability.''

In a commentary in the pan-Arab Al-Hayat newspaper, retired Lebanese army Gen. Elias Hanna went further. ''Where is the deterrence if Israel is replying militarily and on this scale with such tactical and operational freedom?'' he asked. ''The future of Hezbollah and its credibility are based on its ability to deter the enemy.''

Hezbollah also has won little support so far from Arab governments that have been increasingly unnerved by the empowerment of the Shiite majority in Iraq as a result of the U.S.-backed democratization project there, and the increased leverage that has given Iran in the region.

Arab condemnations of the Israeli onslaught have been at best lukewarm. And at the White House, spokesman Tony Snow took the unusual step of quoting directly from a Saudi Arabian statement on the conflict.

A ''distinction must be made between legitimate resistance (by Palestinians) and uncalculated adventures undertaken by elements inside Lebanon and those behind them without recourse to the legal authorities and consulting and coordinating with Arab nations,'' according to the statement, which was released by the official state news agency, SPA.

''These elements should bear the responsibility for their irresponsible actions and they alone should end the crisis they have created,'' it said.

''People are criticizing Hezbollah more than in the past,'' said Robert Malley, Middle East Program director of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group. ''There are people pointing out that this is not an Arab cause. This is a Persian-Shia cause.''

Syria too has been uncharacteristically silent in the face of Israel's onslaught against the country it has historically regarded as its protege.

<SNIP>

''Every Israeli action against Arabs feeds Arab anger against the U.S., and undermines its influence,'' he said. ''Regardless of any cease-fires or short-term outcomes, Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, Islamist extremists like al-Qaida, and Iraqi hard-liners like Sadr can play a spoiler role at any time, and broaden the conflict at minimal risk.''

Middle East stands on the brink of wider conflict
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« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2006, 04:20:18 PM »

Chavez Lashes Out at U.S. Over Mideast

Last Updated:
07-15-06 at 12:30PM

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Friday that American support of Israel is responsible for flaming tensions in the Middle East.

Israel launched its attack on Lebanon after Hezbollah carried out a brazen cross-border raid Wednesday, capturing two soldiers.

"The fundamental blame falls again on the U.S. empire. It's the empire that armed and supported the abuses of the Israeli elite, which has invaded, abused and defied the United Nations for a long time," Chavez said.

The Venezuelan president said Israel was using excessive force _ destroying critical civilian infrastructure and killing and injuring civilians.

An ally of Cuba's Fidel Castro, Chavez frequently lashes out at President Bush and U.S. policy.

"The U.S. empire's desire to dominate has no limits and that could take this world to a real Holocaust," Chavez said.

Chavez Lashes Out at U.S. Over Mideast
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