Hezbollah Battles Israel To A Standstill

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Demonstrators expressing their anger as they passed the US embassy in London on the 30,000-strong march demanding an end to the Israeli attack on the Lebanon
Demonstrators expressing their anger as they passed the US embassy in London on the 30,000-strong march demanding an end to the Israeli attack on the Lebanon

HEZBOLLAH forces have battled Israel to standstill.

After over four days of fierce fighting, Israeli forces were still struggling to take control of the Lebanese village of Maroun Al-Ras.

At least six Israeli commandos and three Hezbollah fighters have died in the battle for the village which is less than a kilometre inside Lebanese territory.

Hezbollah has a system of tunnels in and around the village and are expected to continue to contest the Israeli occupation.

Milos Strugar, spokesman for the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, said there were no other Israeli forces inside Lebanese territory at any other point along the border yesterday.

Israel have lost at least 19 troops during the conflict so far.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Defence Minister Peretz said he would support a NATO peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon.

He said, ‘The deployment of a temporary international peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon will be something that Israel could support.’

Syrian Information Minister, Mohsen Bilal warned that his country will enter the conflict if Israeli ground troops enter Lebanon and approach Syria.

Hezbollah rocket attacks on Haifa continued. At least ten rockets hit Israel’s third-largest city, killing two civilians and seriously wounding more than fourteen others yesterday morning.

The Israeli attacks have killed at least 370 Lebanese civilians. The UN estimated yesterday that over 500,000 Lebanese have left their homes since fighting began eleven days ago.

In Beirut, United Nations emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland said that Israeli air attacks on the city were war crimes.

Visibly moved, he said: ‘It is horrific. I did not know it was block after block of houses. It makes it a violation of humanitarian law.’

Syria’s Health Minister Bahir Al-Masuri said his country was sending aid to the suffering Lebanese people.

He added: ‘It is unacceptable that five members of the UN security Council didn’t until now send anything to assist the population of Lebanon.’

UK Foreign Minister Kim Howells was in Haifa yesterday for talks with Israeli ministers. Envoys from three European countries, Britain, France and Germany, are holding talks in Israel, ahead of the arrival of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Jordanian Crown Prince Hasan commented: ‘The precedent of a country taking the infrastructure of a neighbouring country is unreal.

‘Imagine what would happen if the Indians or the Pakistanis had gone for each other after the killing of two hundred civilians in Mumbai the other day.

‘I think the world is spinning out of control in terms of respect for human rights which have been violated on all sides.

‘The time has come, possibly, in the middle of the storm, to change tack, to say not a war on terror but to struggle for something, a struggle for regional peace.’

Howells said, ‘What’s going on won’t be won by military means, it’s got to be a political victory as well and that means the forces of sanity have got to win out.’

He added: ‘Israel has to convince the Lebanese it wants peace. What the Lebanese told me in Beirut is that they are seeing their countryside smashed.’