They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good. They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you. Bush - Joint News Conference with Blair - 28 July '06

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Carnage Triggers Outrage but Ceasefire Appears Farfetched


More than 60 people were killed, many of them sleeping children, when Israeli warplanes bombed the village of Qana on Sunday, triggering global outrage and warnings of retribution for a "war crime" as a ceasefire appeared more remote than ever.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whose latest Middle East mission was thrown into turmoil by the attack, said it was time to "get to a ceasefire" in Lebanon but stopped short of calling for an immediate halt to hostilities.

The LBCI said more than 60 villagers, including 37 children, were killed in the pre-dawn air raid which left homes in ruins and villagers trapped under the rubble. It was the bloodiest attack since Israel launched its war on Hizbullah following the capture of two soldiers on July 12.

Israel expressed "regret" over the civilian deaths and ordered an inquiry but said it had warned residents to leave and pinned the blame Hizbullah for launching rockets from the village.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he was in "no rush" for a truce and told Rice that Israel needed 10 to 14 days more to continue its offensive against Hizbullah, an Israeli government official said.

But he promised that humanitarian aid will be allowed to reach Qana.

"We will cooperate with appropriate officials to allow humanitarian aid to reach the victims of the Qana bombing," Olmert said during a weekly cabinet meeting.

Amid faltering diplomatic efforts to staunch a conflict now in its 19th day, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan asked the Security Council in an emergency meeting to call for an immediate ceasefire.

"We must condemn this action in the strongest possible terms, and I appeal to you to do likewise," Annan told the meeting of the 15-member council.

Annan also said that Israel informed The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) that it was important for residents of Ramieh and Aita al Shaab to evacuate their towns before Sunday evening, a signal that warplanes would resume pounding these areas.

Premier Fouad Saniora denounced the Qana carnage as a "war crime," demanding an immediate ceasefire in a conflict that Health Minister Mohammed Khalifeh said had killed 750 people.

An AFP count has put the death toll at more than 500, while the U.N. has said around one third of the casualties were children.

In Beirut, angry demonstrators smashed into the U.N. building as thousands took to the streets in protest while Hizbullah and Palestinian militant movements Hamas and Islamic Jihad vowed revenge.

"This horrible massacre, like the others, will not remain unpunished," said Hizbullah, which has fired off waves of rockets against northern Israel since the onslaught began.

Israeli officials said fourteen civilians were injured after more than 140 rockets landed across northern Israel on Sunday.

In Qana -- scene of another deadly bombardment 10 years ago -- rescue workers with only their bare hands clawed through rubble of flattened homes and an underground shelter to find survivors while mothers hugged their dead children in a final hopeless embrace.

"The first thing I remember is spinning around. My head hit the wall and I heard screams," said Qassem Shalhoub, who lost many family members. "They were all calling at me. They were saying, 'stop the bleeding.' Others said, 'pull my son from the rubble.'"

Saniora ruled out any talks on putting an end to the conflict until there was an immediate halt to Israel's offensive, signaling the likely failure of Rice's efforts to win support for the deployment of an international force in southern Lebanon, which has borne the brunt of the offensive.

Speaker Nabih Berri, entrusted by Hizbullah to negotiate a prisoner exchange with Israel, said that conditions he had set for the release of two captured Israeli troops had changed after Israel's bombing of Qana.

The cabinet, in a meeting later in the day, declared Monday a day of mourning for the Qana massacre victims.

A U.S. official said Rice would return to Washington Monday to start intensive diplomacy aimed at reaching a U.N. resolution on the conflict.

Reaction to the Qana carnage was fierce across the Arab world, and even Britain, Washington's closest ally, branded the Qana attack as "quite appalling."

The village, said by some to be where Jesus turned water into wine, was the site of an Israeli bombing of a U.N. base in April 1996 that killed 105 people during Israel's "Grapes of Wrath" offensive -- also aimed at wiping out Hizbullah.

Fresh fighting also flared on the border after Israeli forces made a fresh push into southern Lebanon near the village of Taibe.

A Hizbullah statement said its fighters had inflicted casualties on Israeli troops during "fierce confrontations." Link