Israel's attack on a long established and clearly marked Untied Nations base overlooking the border at Khiam in southern Lebanon on Tuesday is stunning.
Four United Nations observers were killed in their bunker, including one from China.
The co-ordinated artillery and aerial raid occurred despite personal assurances given to the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that UN positions would be spared Israeli fire.
We express our strongest condemnation at this inhuman move and convey our deepest condolences to the victims and their families.
Israel must apologize for the bombing and to the victims' families.
Our hearts also go out to the Chinese soldiers in the UN peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon, who are now trapped in a very dangerous situation. Israel must make sure that its shells do not hit these peacekeepers.
Shocked and deeply distressed by the strike, Annan condemned it as "apparently deliberate targeting by Israeli Defence Forces."
No political pretext can justify such outrages.
Thorough investigations should be conducted and tangible measures should be taken by the concerned sides, particularly Israel, to ensure the security of UN peacekeepers.
It is high time that the relevant sides returned to talks to pursue a political solution.
With Israel resorting to military attacks after two of its soldiers were taken hostage by Hezbollah, the crisis in the Middle East is spiralling out of control.
Israel's bombing has gone beyond the legitimate right of self-defence.
The casualties are mounting as the fighting intensifies.
What the people of Lebanon and Israel urgently need now is to find a way to stop the fighting.
Israel's allies, the United States in particular, should and could save the peace process by urging a ceasefire. But Israel is being allowed at least another week to continue its attack against Hezbollah.
Whatever the calculations, any indifference to the mounting death toll is dangerous.
By resisting calls for an urgent ceasefire, Washington is buying Israel more time to pound Lebanon.
Yet there is little sign that Hezbollah has been so far deeply wounded. Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, threatened on Monday to launch missiles deep into Israeli territory.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, the countries that Washington is relying on to rein in Hezbollah, made clear that they could not accept a US plan that would make a ceasefire only part of a broader peace deal.
Mediation can work only when it takes into account the demands and principles of both Israelis and Arabs.
The Middle East conflict has already done enough damage to both sides.
From the 1967 war onward, Israel's key strategic goal has been to avoid a political process at all costs. The country understood that the inescapable result of such a process would be Israel's return to its 1967 borders, with only minor adjustments.
Avoiding a political process is also the reason behind Israel's decision to withdraw Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip in return for an intensification of Israel's presence in the West Bank.
But this tit-for-tat strategy has never found them peace.
(China Daily 07/27/2006 page4)