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Leaders agree to UN truce timing

BBC Sunday 13 August 2006

A ceasefire deal between Israel and Hezbollah will come into force at 0500 GMT on Monday, the UN Secretary General has said.

Kofi Annan announced the timing after discussions with the prime ministers of Lebanon and Israel.

However, Israel is likely to continue operations in Lebanon on Sunday in an effort to clear the south of Hezbollah.

Nineteen Israeli soldiers were killed on Saturday, and five on a helicopter shot down by Hezbollah are missing.

Hezbollah’s leader has said his group would abide by the ceasefire plan agreed unanimously at the UN Security Council on Friday.

However, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said on TV that Hezbollah would continue fighting as long as Israeli soldiers remained in Lebanon.

Lebanon has now also approved the UN resolution, which calls for a “full cessation of hostilities”, although Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said the government had “some reservations”.

Lebanese officials said that after the truce only Lebanese forces would be authorised to carry weapons in southern Lebanon.

Mr Siniora said the area south of the Litani River, beyond which Hezbollah is expected to withdraw under the terms of the agreement, should be demilitarised.

“There won’t be any weapons in the country starting from the area which is the zone, which will be south of the Litani. There won’t be any weapons other than the weapons of the central government.”

Fighting goes on

Announcing the agreed terms of the ceasefire, Kofi Annan said he was “very happy”, but added that “preferably, the fighting should stop now”.

He insisted that the UN would work with the Lebanese and Israeli governments to ensure the ceasefire held.

Israel expanded its military operation on Saturday as the clock ticked towards the implementation of the agreement, tripling the number of troops in southern Lebanon.

Some Israeli estimates put the number of Israeli troops now in southern Lebanon at 30,000.

Some Israeli troops have reached the key target of the Litani River, the army says, but 19 Israeli soldiers were killed and more than 70 wounded in the fighting on Saturday.

It was Israel’s highest number of casualties in a single day since the conflict began.

Israeli jets hit a string of targets in Lebanon on Saturday, saying it killed some 40 Hezbollah fighters. There were heavy clashes elsewhere in the country, and reports from Lebanese sources that some 15 civilians were killed in an air strike.

Israel also confirmed a helicopter had been shot down in southern Lebanon, the first such loss to hostile fire in the conflict.

It says a crew of five were on board, and all are reported missing.

Hezbollah fired more rockets into northern Israel, but Israeli sources said the number was fewer than in recent days.

Israel’s cabinet will discuss and take a formal vote on the UN ceasefire resolution on Sunday.

‘War not ended’

On Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV channel on Saturday, Sheikh Nasrallah said the UN resolution was “unfair” in holding his group responsible for the fighting.

But he said: “We will not be an obstacle to any decision taken by the Lebanese government,” adding that Hezbollah would continue to resist Israel’s presence in Lebanon.

Sheikh Nasrallah also said Hezbollah would co-operate with the deployment of UN and Lebanese troops in the south.

More than 1,000 Lebanese and more than 120 Israelis have been killed in the conflict since Hezbollah militants captured two Israeli soldiers on 12 July in a cross-border raid.

UN Security Council resolution 1701 says Hezbollah must end attacks on Israel while Israel must end “offensive military operations” in Lebanese territory.

US President George W Bush praised the UN move, but once again criticised Hezbollah, saying the group shared the same “totalitarian ideology” as those arrested in a suspected plot to blow up US-bound jets from Britain.

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This entry was posted on 13 August, 2006 by in Diplomacy, Empire, War and Terror, Human Rights, Israel, Israel Watch, Lebanon, Middle East, UN.

Timely Reminders

"Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself."
-- Aldous Huxley

"The only war that matters is the war against the imagination. All others are subsumed by it."
-- Diane DiPrima, "Rant", from Pieces of a Song.

"It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there"
-- William Carlos Williams, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"