Condi Rice Visits Beirut
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has embarked on her trip to the Middle East. To the surprise of many, her first stop was Beirut.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a surprise stop in the besieged Lebanese capital today to try to prop up the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and to reassure Arab allies who have become increasingly impatient with the Israeli bombardment, which has killed close to 400 people, mostly Lebanese civilians.....Besides Mr. Siniora, Ms. Rice was to meet with Shiite members of Lebanon's parliament who have close to ties to Hezbollah, the militant group that is Israel's target, aides said.
The Bush Administration doesn't want a cease-fire now. First, Hezbollah has to be taken down. Israel wants the return of its soldiers and the dismantling of Hezbolla before a cease-fire. Then, it says it may consider a peace-keeping force, something it always has opposed in the past.
Israel is not randomly bombing civilians. They are warning civilians to evacuate so they can hit their military targets:
Israel has been warning the civilian population of the south to move north to avoid getting hurt. "The reason for the evacuation of the population is to leave us open space and an open area to hit military and terrorist targets and not to deal with the problem of civilians," General Shachar said.
Israeli military officials say they have found thousands of Katyusha rockets and other missiles hidden in well-camouflaged underground bunkers and also in mosques, hospitals and schools. They say Iran is trying to send fresh supplies of ammunition and rockets to Lebanon through Syria.
Palestineans are firing rockets into Israel as well:
In the Gaza Strip, Palestinian militants fired a dozen smaller Qassam rockets into southern Israel on Sunday without causing serious damage. The attacks suggested that earlier reports of a Palestinian Authority attempt to broker a unilateral cease-fire among the militants had failed.
For its part, Hezbollah is threatening increased attacks on Israel.
In Tehran Monday, the Associated Press reported, Hezbollah's representative in Iran struck a defiant tone, warning that his Islamic militant group plans to widen its attacks on Israel until "no place" is safe for Israelis. Hossein Safiadeen also reinforced earlier threats by Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah to widen the scope of attacks, which have included unprecedented missile strikes deep into northern Israel.
"We are going to make Israel not safe for Israelis. There will be no place they are safe," Safiadeen told a conference that included the Tehran-based representative of the Palestinian group Hamas and the ambassadors from Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian Authority. "You will see a new Middle East in the way of Hezbollah and Islam, not in the way of Rice and Israel," he said, according to AP.
More on that here.
Britain's Tony Blair says a cease-fire is unworkable "because Israel would still be vulnerable to attacks by Hezbollah."
Will any Arab nations ever agree to take down Hezbollah? Can Israel do it by itself? Should it keep trying?
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