In Beirut on Sunday a U.N. envoy accused Israel of massive violations of international law, the Financial Times of London reported: "This is destruction of block after block of mainly residential areas. I would say it seems to be an excessive use of force in an area with so many citizens." -- The U.N. estimates that Israel's assault on Lebanon has placed "up to one million" people in need of aid. -- A British foreign office minister "said he hoped the U.S. understood what was happening. 'The destruction of the infrastructure, the death of so many children and so many people. These haven't been surgical strikes,' he told Sky News." -- But the U.S. is not only supporting Israel but also supplying the bombs: "Despite such concerns, the Bush administration stressed it stood by Israel, confirming that it was providing munitions as required and agreed with the aim of removing the threat posed by Hezbollah. 'That's the nature of the relationship,' said Joshua Bolten, White House chief of staff." ...
U.S. STANDS BY ISRAEL AS ENVOYS HIT AT BOMBING
By Sharmila Devi (Jerusalem), Ferry Biedermann (Beirut), and Guy Dinmore (Washington)
Financial Times (UK)
July 23, 2006
The U.S. assured Israel of its political and military support on Sunday night as Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state, prepared to meet the Israeli government amid mounting international pressure to halt its bombardment of Lebanon.
Touring south Beirut, stronghold of the Hizbollah militia most targeted by air strikes, Jan Egeland, U.N. emergency relief coordinator, accused Israel of violating humanitarian law. "This is destruction of block after block of mainly residential areas. I would say it seems to be an excessive use of force in an area with so many citizens," he said.
The U.N. estimates that up to 1m people in Lebanon need aid. Mr. Egeland said $100m (78.8m euros, £53.9m) was needed for relief work and that he would visit Israel tomorrow to discuss safe corridors by air, land, and sea.
More than 360 Lebanese, mostly civilians, have died since the crisis erupted on July 12 when Hezbollah abducted two Israeli soldiers. In Israel, 17 civilians have been killed by rocket fire while 20 soldiers have died.
Kim Howells, the U.K. foreign office minister who was in Israel after visiting Lebanon, said he hoped the U.S. understood what was happening. "The destruction of the infrastructure, the death of so many children and so many people. These haven't been surgical strikes," he told Sky News.
Despite such concerns, the Bush administration stressed it stood by Israel, confirming that it was providing munitions as required and agreed with the aim of removing the threat posed by Hezbollah.
"That's the nature of the relationship," said Joshua Bolten, White House chief of staff. The U.S. has also asked Israel to avoid civilian casualties.
Ms. Rice, who will meet Israeli officials and Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian president, before attending an international conference on Lebanon in Rome on Wednesday, says she wants a lasting solution, not a quick ceasefire that leaves Hezbollah armed and still able to threaten Israel.
As Israeli warplanes bombed Lebanon and Hezbollah fired rockets at northern Israel for the 12th day, ministers from France, Germany, and Britain, which have been more critical of Israel than the U.S., held talks with Israeli officials on the prospects for sending a new multinational force to southern Lebanon.
Israeli media said officials expected to obtain at least another week free from U.S. pressure to end the Lebanon offensive. Thousands of Israeli soldiers have massed on the northern border but Israel denies it plans to reoccupy Lebanon.
Amir Peretz, Israeli defense minister, said Israel would accept a NATO force after having previously rejected an enlarged United Nations mission in southern Lebanon. John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said Washington was open to the idea of a NATO force but had not considered the participation of U.S. troops.
Mr. Bolton dismissed a reported offer of dialogue from Syria on Sunday, saying: "Syria doesn't need dialogue to know what they need to do."
Eight civilians were killed in Israeli raids on Beirut, eastern and southern Lebanon on Sunday that also wounded more than 100 people, mostly in Tyre. Two people were killed in Hezbollah rocket attacks on the Israeli city of Haifa. Three people were killed in Lebanon by an Israeli missile on their minibus as they fled a southern village. Israel captured the Lebanese border village of Maroun al-Ras after heavy fighting. Israel said five of its soldiers had been killed, while Hezbollah said it had lost three fighters.