Nessuna tregua per il Libano

Il primo ministro Ehud Olmert ha dichiarato che malgrado
l'interruzione per quarant'otto ore delle incursioni
dell'aviazione israeliana in Libano "non c'è cessate il fuoco.". La sospensione delle attività aeree è stata annunciata dopo che il bombardamento di un edificio nella città libanese di Cana ha causato la morte di 56 persone tra cui 37 bambini. L'aviazione ha ricevuto l'ordine di continuare le operazioni "contro bersagli che rappresentano una minaccia per Israele e le sue truppe, compresi lanciarazzi, veicoli per il trasporto di munizioni, guerriglieri Hezbollah,
depositi di armi e proprietà di Hezbollah".
31 luglio 2006
Ze'ev Schiff, Amos Harel e Aluf Benn
Fonte: Haaretz

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday evening that there would be no cease-fire in the coming days, despite a 48-hour halt in Israel Air Force activity in Lebanon.

"Israel is continuing to fight," Olmert said in an address to the nation from Tel Aviv. He said the offensive in southern Lebanon would end when the rockets fired by Hezbollah cease and the two Israel Defense Forces soldiers abducted on July 12 are returned.

Israel had had no choice but to begin its attacks on Hezbollah after the guerrillas carried out their cross-border attack, in which eight other soldiers were killed, he said.

He said that Israeli forces continued fighting in the air, from the sea and on the ground in Lebanon.

"We could not let the terror organization on our border get stronger, let them get more missiles," he said. "If we had held off, the day would have arrived soon when they would have caused unprecedented damage."

Israelis would not give up the right to life a quiet simple life like other nations, he said.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz told the Knesset on Monday afternoon that Israel must not agree to an immediate cease-fire, and that the military would expand and strengthen its attacks against Hezbollah.

The suspension of aerial activity was announced in the wake of an IAF strike on a building in southern Lebanon killed 56 people, among them 37 children.

A senior government source said earlier Monday that the IAF had been told to continue acting against "targets that present a threat to Israel and its troops, including rocket launchers, vehicles transporting ammunition, Hezbollah fighters, weapons stores and Hezbollah assets."

The term "Hezbollah assets" refers to people identified with the organization, including those who do not pose an immediate threat. "If they are identified with Hassan Nasrallah, we will hit them," the source said.

Regarding the instructions to the IAF, the source said, however, "there will be no attacks on buildings that had not been identified" as part of efforts to strike Israel, and held, for example, ammunition, Hezbollah fighters or their commanders."

"We cannot agree to an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon because then we will find ourselves in a few months in a similar situation," Peretz told a heated parliamentary debate during which four Israeli Arab lawmakers were escorted out for heckling. One Knesset member called Peretz a murderer.

"We have to finish the operation, and I will do it," he said. "The army will expand and deepen its actions against

He expressed regret over the deaths of civilians in an IAF strike in Qana on Sunday, and said that the army would investigate.

"When Hezbollah kill civilians in Haifa, they see it as an operational success, but when we harm civilians, it's a failure," he said. "I am sorry for what happened in Qana village, and we won't hesitate to investigate any operation we carry out, [but] we aren't doing it to look good in anyone else's eyes."

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking after the 48-hour suspension took effect earlier Monday, said she believed a cease-fire to end fighting between Israel and Hezbollah could be forged this week.

"This morning, as I head back to Washington, I take with me an emerging consensus on what is necessary for both an urgent cease-fire and lasting settlement. I am convinced we can achieve both this week," she told reporters in Jerusalem.

The Israeli suspension of air strikes in Lebanon began early in the day and covers the entire country, an Israel Defense Forces spokesman said.

Nevertheless, IDF ground operations will continue as before, with the intention of completing the demolition of Hezbollah positions along the border by Thursday.

The suspension of IAF activity was first suggested in a meeting Sunday between Rice and Olmert, during which the secretary of state asked that Israel open a 24-hour "corridor" for residents to leave south Lebanon, effective immediately.

After hearing Olmert's explanations for the attack at Qana, Rice asked the prime minister what steps would be taken to prevent such an incident from happening again, in order to avoid having an impact on the war effort. Rice said that when such incidents occurred in Iraq, the operations were suspended until the completion of an investigation.

Following the meeting, the offices of the prime minister and defense minister decided to limit the aerial activity until the completion of the investigation. The announcement was supposed to have been made by the Israeli military, but due to a misunderstanding, it actually came from the American side.

Israel was also to coordinate with the United Nations to allow a 24-hour window for residents of southern Lebanon to leave the area if they wish, U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli told a briefing in Jerusalem.

Rice won the 48-hour suspension from Israel following the Qana attack, which sparked an international outcry.

"I have been deeply grieved by the tragic losses we have witnessed, especially the deaths of children, Lebanese and Israelis. Too many families have been displaced from their homes. Too many people urgently need medical care or are living in shelters," she said Sunday.

Israel also agreed to allow a 24-hour window for residents of southern Lebanon to leave the area if they wish. Rice said she hoped this could be extended.

Rice told reporters in Jerusalem that she would call for a UN resolution this week on the cease-fire and also the establishment of an international stabilisation force for Lebanon, which she said she hoped
could be deployed as soon as possible after the UN resolution.

"There is broad agreement that armed groups must be prohibited in areas where the international force is deployed," she said, adding an arms embargo must be enforced.

The pause in overflights began at 2 A.M. Monday (23:00 GMT Sunday) and will last for 48 hours, the IDF spokesman said. An attack on a main highway near Lebanon's border with Syria occurred about two hours before the start of the suspension of air strikes, the IDF said.

Israel reserves the right during the suspension to attack any militants who pose an immediate threat to Israel, like those preparing to launch rockets against Israel or transporting rockets that they are preparing to fire, the IDF said.

Ramon: War is not about to end
Just prior to Rice's press conference, Justice Minister Haim Ramon said the 48-hour suspension of air strikes did not mean the war was about to end but should lift some pressure on Israel.

Ramon told Army Radio: "This [suspension] decision will allow us to continue the war over time and it will take off some of the political pressure, so I am sure this is the right decision for now. It is not stopping the war.

"If it ends today it means a victory for Hezbollah... and for world terror, with far-reaching consequences. Therefore this war is not about to end, not today and not tomorrow," he said.

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