Israel intends to continue killing


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

Israel's PM rules out ceasefire

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said Israel is not ready to stop its 
offensive against Hezbollah in Lebanon.

"The fighting continues. There is no ceasefire and there will not be any 
ceasefire in the coming days," he said.

Mr Olmert apologised "for the pain caused" to Lebanese civilians, but said 
Hezbollah had suffered a severe blow.

In late-night discussions, Mr Olmert's security cabinet was reported to have 
approved plans to widen Israel's ground offensive in Lebanon.

Israel and Hezbollah traded fire on Monday, less than a day after Israel 
declared a partial halt to air strikes on south Lebanon.

Israeli warplanes struck several targets, killing a Lebanese soldier near the 
city of Tyre. Israel expressed regret over the death, saying it believed the 
vehicle was carrying a senior Hezbollah official.

Israeli officials said the pause was to allow time for an investigation into the
Qana attack and for the UN to evacuate civilians from the area. However Israel 
reserved the right to continue targeting militants preparing attacks.

Fighting has also continued on the ground in southern Lebanon, with the villages
of Taibe, Kila and Adasya coming under Israeli artillery fire.

Hezbollah fired two shells which landed on the outskirts of the Israeli border 
town of Kiryat Shmona, causing no injuries.

Israel's military said Hezbollah also hit an Israeli tank near Taibe, wounding 
three soldiers.

In other developments:

€  The UN Security Council extended the mandate of the UN Interim Force in 
Lebanon (Unifil) for one month

€  New York-based group Human Rights Watch accused Israel of committing war 
crimes by carrying out what it called an indiscriminate bombing campaign in 

€  Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told his country's army to raise its state 
of readiness in the face of "Israeli aggression", in a long-planned annual 
speech to the Syrian armed forces

€  Lebanon observed a national day of mourning following the deaths in Qana, 
with many banks and public buildings closed

'Fighting terrorists'

Speaking in Tel Aviv, Mr Olmert said Israel's campaign would continue until it 
achieved its goals.

"We will end it when the threat over our heads is removed, when our kidnapped 
soldiers return to their homes and when we can live in security," he said.

Israel began its offensive in Lebanon after Hezbollah militants captured two 
Israeli soldiers in a cross-border attack on 12 July. It is also fighting 
Palestinian militants in Gaza to secure the release of an Israeli soldier held 
captive there since 26 June.

Mr Olmert said Israel was "not fighting against the Lebanese people. We do not 
want to topple their government.

Later on, a statement from Mr Olmert's office said he told UK Prime Minister 
Tony Blair a ceasefire could be implemented "immediately" after the deployment 
of an international stabilisation force in Lebanon.

Mr Olmert's televised comments came hours after US Secretary of State 
Condoleezza Rice said the US would seek a UN resolution calling for a ceasefire 
this week.

US President George W Bush meanwhile said on Monday that the UN had to address 
the "root causes of the problem".

"We want there to be a long-lasting peace, one that is sustainable," he said 
after meeting Cuban-American business leaders in Miami, Florida.

'Ghost village'

Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz described the 48-hour cessation of air 
strikes, from 0200 Monday (2300 GMT on Sunday) as a "humanitarian gesture".

Published: 2006/07/31 22:57:18 GMT


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