08/08/2006, 00.00
ISRAEL – lebanon
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Olmert for broader military operations in southern Lebanon

The IDF is planning to push 30-50 kilometres into Lebanon to remove Hezbollah bases. Humanitarian situation in the country is getting worse. The international community is working on a UN resolution that would overcome Lebanese objections.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Israel plans to go at least 30-50 kilometres into Lebanon to wipe out all possible Hezbollah bases, this according to AsiaNews sources. Today Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert scheduled a meeting with its top military leaders to discuss broadening the land offensive in Lebanon. GOC Northern Command, Major General Udi Adam, said that the IDF is "prepared for an expansion of the ground operation in southern Lebanon" across the Litani River till Ramat Nabatiyeh to "to allow the home front to live normally." Similarly, Olmert said that "[w]e cannot have a million residents living in shelters".

Meanwhile in Lebanon the population is increasingly isolated. The Israeli military warned people in southern Lebanon not to travel by car or any other vehicle on roads south of the Litani where the battle rages between Israeli troops and Hezbollah militias.

Israel dropped leaflets this morning on the region. Signed the 'State of Israel', they said: "Every vehicle, whatever its nature, which travels south of the Litani, will be bombed on suspicion of transporting rockets and arms for the terrorists".

The city of Tyre is increasingly cut off—gasoline and medicines are almost impossible to find.

The International Red Cross has been critical of the situation in which international law for the protection of civilians is not respected.

In the south Israeli troops clashed with Hezbollah in the village of Debel. The Shia militia claimed to have killed at least 15 Israeli soldiers, whilst Israel said that that one of its soldiers died and that its forces killed 15 Hezbollah men.

Despite their intensity Israeli operations have failed so far to quell the violence of the Shia guerrilla force. At least 100 Katyusha rockets landed in northern Israel. Two people were wounded in the town of Fasuta (northern Galilee). Some 20 rockets hit the city of Kiryat Shmona causing damages to structures; others fell near Tiberias and Nahariya.

France and the United States are continuing their diplomatic offensive trying to change the draft UN resolution that would bring the hostilities to an end in ways that would overcome Lebanese objections.

Yesterday, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora rejected an earlier draft because it did not call for an Israeli withdrawal. Instead, he proposed to send 15,000 Lebanese army troops south to secure the area and reassure the Israelis of the Lebanese government's intention of disarming Hezbollah. An Arab League delegation is on its way to New York to back Lebanon's requests.

The decision to deploy Lebanese troops in the south is a historic step that should guarantee the disarmament of Hezbollah units. Lebanese Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh said this "historic decision settles the issue of Lebanon's defence strategy".

Lebanese political leaders had discussed disarming Hezbollah in previous months (as required by UN Resolution 1559) but had failed to reach an agreement.

Ehud Olmert described the initiative as an "interesting step", but said that Israel will stop only when rockets stop raining on the people of northern Israel.

And Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz reiterated that Israel would only accept a cease-fire when southern Lebanon was demilitarised, and Hezbollah was disbanded and the two kidnapped soldiers returned home.

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See also
Hezbollah seizes two Israeli soldiers, war looming along the border with Lebanon
Mounting pressures on Olmert to resign
Annan-Olmert meet, discuss first steps to implement resolution 1701
Time to lay the groundwork for an enduring pace in the Mideast, says Rice
Tehran backs Damascus against new UN Resolution


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