Massacre in Houla as Arab countries discuss UN draft
Lebanese PM Siniora slams Israel's "terrorism" for loss of civilian life. The Arab League backs Lebanon's demands for changes to UN draft resolution. Death toll climbs in both countries.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – An Israeli air strike has killed more than 40 people in the southern Lebanese border village of Houla. Visibly moved, Lebanon's Prime Minister Fouad Siniora told an Arab foreign ministers meeting in Beirut about the "a horrific massacre", saying that Israel is fighting terrorism by practicing "state terrorism". The Houla incident was one of the many military actions taken by Israel today near the border as well as in south Beirut, the Bekaa Valley and Tyre.

The intensification of Israeli actions is in response to Hezbollah's intensified rocket attacks. Yesterday 12 Israeli reservists were killed by a rocket in Kfar Giladi near the border. In Haifa hundreds more killed three people and injured more than 160. Many buildings were destroyed and emergency rescue units are still working around the clock to find survivors amid the rubble and the burning houses.

In Beirut the authorities reported that as of today more than 900 Lebanese, mostly civilians, have died in the conflict. Israel has said that more than 90 of its citizens, mostly military, have died.

In the Lebanese capital, 22 Arab foreign ministers are meeting to discuss the draft resolution before the UN Security Council and back Lebanon in its demand for changes.

The UN Security Council resolution drafted by France and the United States on Sunday has been criticised by the Lebanese government because it calls for "full cessation" of fighting, but not for a ceasefire (necessary to guarantee humanitarian corridors) or the immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon. Beirut also wants the resolution to guarantee the return of the Shabaa Farms, still occupied by Israel, and the prisoners exchange between Israel and Hezbollah. Siniora's government also would like to see a stronger UN presence in south Lebanon and Hezbollah's disarmament with the Lebanese army in charge.

So far Israel has not responded to the draft resolution whilst Syria and Iran, which back Hezbollah, have rejected it.

In New York, approval of the resolution was expected today or tomorrow but the changes demanded by the Lebanese are likely to delay the diplomatic process.

In the meantime, Israeli Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog said that the Israeli "army will continue to act" until the resolution enters into force. And Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres warned it would take weeks not days for the resolution to take effect on the ground.