Israel halts air attacks in south Lebanon
Updated: 2006-07-31 09:53
Israel suspended air attacks on south Lebanon for 48 hours in the face of
widespread outrage over an airstrike Sunday that killed at least 56 Lebanese,
almost all of them women and children, when it leveled a building where they had
announcement - made by a US State Department spokesman with Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice in Jerusalem - appeared to reflect American pressure
on Israel to make some concession after the strike.
|Medical personnel line up bodies outside Tyre hospital after an
Israeli air raid on Qana killed at least 54 civilians, including 37
children, in south Lebanon, July 30, 2006. [Reuters]
In addition to suspending air attacks, Israel will also allow the opening of
corridors for 24 hours for Lebanese civilians who want to leave south Lebanon
for the north and would maintain land, sea and air corridors for humanitarian
assistance, officials said.
Israeli government officials confirmed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed to
an immediate 48-hour halt in airstrikes on Lebanon around midnight Sunday while
the military concludes its inquiry into the attack on the south Lebanese village
of Qana. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not
authorized to talk to reporters.
The officials left open the possibility that Israel might hit targets to stop
imminent attacks, and that the suspension could last less than 48 hours if the
military completes its inquiry before then.
Lebanon said the Israeli suspension was inadequate.
"There is no cease-fire and there is no cessation of hostilities," Lebanese
special envoy Nouhad Mahoud told reporters at the United Nations late Sunday.
"We are looking for something much more than that."
The bloodshed in Lebanon prompted Rice to cut short her Mideast mission and
intensified world demands on Washington to back an immediate end to the
A three-story house on the outskirts of Qana was leveled when a missile
crashed into it at 1 a.m. Red Cross officials said 56 were killed and police
said 34 children and 12 adult women were among the dead. It was worst single
strike since Israel's campaign in Lebanon began on July 12 when Hezbollah
militants crossed the border into Israel and abducted two soldiers.
The attack in Qana brought Lebanon's death toll to more than 510 and pushed
American peace efforts to a crucial juncture, as fury at the United States
flared in Lebanon.
The Beirut government said it would no longer negotiate over a U.S. peace
package without an unconditional cease-fire.