bombs as birth pangs
-- -- Condoleezza Rice has described the plight of Lebanon as a
part of the "birth pangs of a new Middle East" and said that Israel
should ignore calls for a ceasefire.
"This is a different Middle East. It's a new Middle East. It's hard,
We're going through a very violent time," the US secretary of state
ceasefire would be a false promise if it simply returns us to the
"Such a step would allow terrorists to launch attacks at the time
and terms of their choosing and to threaten innocent people, Arab
and Israeli, throughout the region."
She was speaking on Saturday after meeting with members of a United
Nations team that had just returned from the region.
More than 300 Lebanese civilians have been killed in 11 days of
Israeli air and artillery strikes against Hezbollah, the armed
Lebanese Shia group.
The present round of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah broke out
after Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border
raid on July 12.
Rice will travel to the Middle East some time next week. Her
itinerary has not yet been announced.
Call for negotiations
Hezbollah has offered to release the two soldiers if Israel frees
Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
But Israel has said that Hezbollah must release the soldiers
unconditionally and says that it will not halt its offensive until
Lebanon implements UN resolution 1559 and disarms Hezbollah.
Since then the Israeli aircraft have carried out more than 3,000
sorties in Lebanon and have bombed infrastructure including bridges,
roads and ports.
By Saturday morning the attacks had killed at least 305 Lebanese
civilians and at least 12 members of the Lebanese army, which has
tried to stay out of the conflict.
Israeli military leaders say that the attacks are necessary to stop
Hezbollah firing rockets at Israel.
Since fighting started 11 days ago, Hezbollah has fired more than
1,000 rockets at Israel, killing 15 civilians.
"Many rocket launchers have been destroyed, terror infrastructures
have been destroyed and also nearly 100 Hezbollah terrorists have
been killed, from all levels and all ranks," Dan Halutz, the Israeli
army's chief of staff, said on Friday.
"Fighting against Hezbollah is taking a heavy toll on [the group].
"The fact is that they avoid publishing the number of their losses,
the names of their men that were killed, and the fact that they feed
the press dishonest information [shows] they are disconnected from
The Israeli military has also announced that for the last three days
its troops have held positions inside Lebanon near the villages of
Marwaheen in the west and in Maroun al-Ras further east.
"At most, we're talking about a few kilometers in," an Israeli army
"It will probably widen, but we are still looking at limited
operations. We're not talking about massive forces going inside at
On Friday, the Israeli army called up 3,000 reserve soldiers and
began massing troops and armoured vehicles near the Lebanese border.
An Israeli spokesman, Captain Yaacov Dalal, said ground operations
were "indispensable because the air force can not always destroy
underground bunkers dug by Hezbollah, which has put in place an
entire fortified network".
New air strikes
The Israeli army also said it attacked more than 150 targets across
Lebanon in the last 24 hours, including a Hezbollah weapons bunker,
command posts and 11 rocket launchers.
An Aljazeera television correspondent in Lebanon reported that
overnight Israeli airstrikes had hit residential areas in the
southern town of Nabatiya, killing one person and wounding eight
Other air strikes had hit the town centre of Al-Khaim, damaging many
houses on Saturday morning, she said.
In northern Israel two people were wounded when 10 Hezbollah rockets
landed in and around the town of Carmiel. Other rockets hit the
towns of Nahariya and Rosh Pina, closer to the Lebanese border,
Aljazeera + Agencies