Israeli Attack on Lebanon Enters Sixth Day; Death Toll over 150

Jul 17, 2006

Israel’s bombardment of Lebanon has entered its sixth day and the Lebanese death toll has now topped 150: almost all of them civilians. Over the weekend Israel widened its offensive by attacking sites throughout Lebanon including downtown Beirut and the northern city of Tripoli. The Guardian newspaper reports Israel is considering launching a ground invasion of southern Lebanon.

Hezbollah Rocket Attack on Haifa Kills 8 Israelis

Jul 17, 2006

On Sunday the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah fired a series of rockets at northern Israel. One missile hit a train maintenance building in Haifa and killed eight Israelis. It was the deadliest attack against Israel carried out by Hezbollah in over a decade. It brought the Israeli death toll since last week to about 24.

Israel Warplanes Destroy Palestinian Foreign Ministry Office

Jul 17, 2006

Meanwhile Israel has also expanded its offensive in Gaza. Overnight, Israeli warplanes leveled the eight-story Palestinian Foreign Ministry office in Gaza City. On Saturday Israel attacked the Palestinian Ministry of Economy. Since late June Israel has killed about 85 Palestinians in Gaza.

  • Palestinian Government Spokesperson Ghazi Hamad: “This means, that Israel really want to destroy the Palestinian political system and also to destroy the Palestinian government. And this means that it is kind of comprehensive war not only for the returning of the captured soldiers, but I think maybe this is a chance for Israel to destroy the Palestinian democracy”

Eight Canadians Killed in Israeli Airstrike in Lebanon

Jul 17, 2006

Israel’s bombing campaign in Lebanon has become the most destructive assault on the country since Israel’s invasion in 1982. On Saturday as many as 15 Lebanese villagers — including women and children — were killed in an Israeli airstrike near the border village of Ter Harfa. Photos showed the bodies of the children strewn across a street. The civilians were trying to evacuate their home. On Sunday, eight Canadians from the same family were killed when Israeli aircraft bombed a house in southern Lebanon where they were vacationing. The dead included four children aged one, four, six and eight.

Lebanon’s Infrastructure Dismantled; Tens of Thousands Flee Country

Jul 17, 2006

Israel continues to target Lebanon’s infrastructure and bomb civilian neighborhoods. Over 90,000 Lebanese residents have fled to Syria. Many foreigners are unable to leave after Israel’s attack on Beirut’s international airport. In a report from Beirut, Washington Post reporter Anthony Shadid writes that Israel has “systematically dismantled the country’s infrastructure, displaced thousands of residents and instilled a new sense of foreboding and fear in the now-deserted streets of this brash, confident city still shadowed by the legacy of Lebanon’s 15-year civil war.”

Annan & Blair Call For International Force to Stop Hezbollah

Jul 17, 2006

Earlier today UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and British Prime Minister Tony Blair called for an international force to be sent to Lebanon to stop Hezbollah from attacking Israel. But Israel — which has rejected calls for a ceasefire — said it is too soon to talk of deploying an international force.

  • Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres, speaking on Saturday: “There is a clear distinction between two camps. One is made of Hezbollah, the Hamas, the Iranians and the Syrians They are the aggressors for no good reason. They want to destroy, they don’t want anyone else or less. The real victim right now are the Lebanese. There is not a a slightest conflict between Lebanon as a state and the Lebanese as a people.”

Hezbollah Leader Warns of Intensified Attacks

Jul 17, 2006

Meanwhile Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has warned that its attacks against Israel are just beginning. On Sunday he defended the attack on Haifa and threatened to possibly bomb Israeli chemical factories.

  • Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah: “The wide-scale attacks on southern Lebanon and the Bekkaa, particularly the cities of Baalbeck and al-Hermel and northwards, left us no choice but to fulfill a promise we had made to ourselves. So we shelled the city of Haifa. We know the importance and significance of that city. Had we targeted with our rockets the chemical and petrochemicals factories, a massive catastrophe would have befallen the inhabitants of that area. However, this avoidance does not mean that we will maintain this position.”

U.S. Blocks UN From Calling for Ceasefire

Jul 17, 2006

President Bush is coming under criticism for failing to take a role in ending the bloodshed. On Sunday the White House revealed the president has not yet spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert since Israel began attacking Lebanon. On Saturday, Bush spoke from Russia at the G8 Summit said Israel has a right to defend itself.

  • President Bush: “One of the interesting things about this recent flare-up is that it helps clarify one of the root causes of instability in the Middle East, and that’s Hezbollah’s relations with Syria, Hezbollah’s relationship to Iran and Syria’s relationship to Iran. Therefore to solve this problem it is really important for the world to address the root cause. We of course are continuing discussions with Israel, all sovereign nations have a right to defend themselves from terrorist attacks, our message (to Israel) is defend yourself but be mindful of the consequences, so we are urging restraint.”

On Saturday the United Nations Security Council again rejected pleas from Lebanon that it call for an immediate cease-fire between Israel and Lebanon. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported the U.S. was the sole member of the 15-nation UN body to oppose any council action at all at this time.

Vatican: Israel Must Follow International Law & Protect Civilians

Jul 17, 2006

Meanwhile The Vatican has condemned what it describes as the terrorist attacks on one side and the military reprisals on the other. But the Vatican’s harshest words were for Israel. A spokesperson for the Pope stated that Israel’s right to self-defense “does not exempt it from respecting the norms of international law, especially as regards the protection of civilian populations.”

40 Die in Attack on Open-Air Market in Iraq

Jul 17, 2006

Up to 40 people died in Iraq today when gunmen attacked an open-air market in the town of Mahmoudiya. This is the same town where four U.S. soldiers have been charged with raping an Iraqi teenager and murdering her and three family members. On Sunday, in northern Iraq, a suicide bomber blew up a café packed with Shiite Muslims. 26 people died. Another 22 were injured.

Gunmen Seize Head of Iraq Olympic Committee & 30 Others

Jul 17, 2006

In other news from Iraq, gunmen dressed in police uniforms kidnapped the head of Iraq’s national Olympic committee along with 30 others on Saturday. A day later, gunmen seized a top Oil Ministry official. Meanwhile Iraq’s parliament voted on Saturday to extend a nearly two-year state of emergency in Baghdad for another 30 days.

Gen. Schoomaker: Iraq War Is Just Beginning

Jul 17, 2006

Here in this country the Army’s top uniformed officer has admitted the war in Iraq is just beginning. At a forum in Washington, Gen. Peter Schoomaker said “I believe that we are closer to the beginning … than we are to the end.” When he was asked if the U.S. military was winning the war in Iraq, General Schoomaker replied by saying “I don’t think we’re losing.”

Over 1.1 Million Protest in Mexico Calling For Election Recount

Jul 17, 2006

In Mexico, over one point one million people rallied on Sunday in Mexico City to demand a full recount in the country’s contested presidential election. Presidential runner up Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador called on the crowd to commit acts of “peaceful civil resistance” to force a recount.

  • Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador: “This is the most important, the biggest and the most numerous demonstration in all of Mexico’s political history.”

U.S. General Overseeing Guantanamo Promoted to Head NATO

Jul 17, 2006

The U.S. General overseeing operations at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay has been promoted. General Bantz Craddock is becoming the new commander of operations for NATO. President Bush proposed Craddock for the job. Up until now, Craddock had been serving as the chief of U.S. Southern Command which oversees Guantanamo.

100 Die in Fighting in Afghanistan

Jul 17, 2006

Fighting in southern Afghanistan has left 100 dead over the past three days. Meanwhile the Independent of London reports the Afghan government has approved a plan to reintroduce a Department for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. Human rights groups have expressed concern because this is the same governmental body once used by the Taliban to enforce its religious doctrine.

3,000 Rally in Haiti for Return Of Aristide

Jul 17, 2006

In Haiti, over 3,000 people demonstrated on Saturday to call for the return of ousted President Jean-Betrand Aristide. The protesters also called for the release of all political prisoners including Aristide’s former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune. The protest marked Aristide’s 53rd birthday. He was ousted two and a half years ago in a U.S.-backed coup. Many of his supporters have been jailed for the past two years.

Valerie Plame Speaks Out For the First Time

Jul 17, 2006

In news from Washington, Valerie Plame has spoken publicly for the first time since she was outted as a CIA operative three years ago. Last week she filed a lawsuit against Vice President Dick Cheney, presidential aide Karl Rove and Cheney’s former chief of staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby for conspiring to end her career and putting her and her family at risk. She was outted as a CIA operative shortly after her husband Ambassador Joseph Wilson had gone public with findings challenging one of the Bush administration’s pre-war claims on Iraqi weapons.

  • Valerie Plame, speaking on Friday: “I and my former CIA colleagues, trusted our government as we did our jobs. That a few reckless individuals within the current administration betrayed that trust has been a grave disappointment to every patriotic American. Joe and I have filed this action with heavy hearts but with a renewed sense of purpose. I would much rather be continuing my career as a public servant than be a plaintiff in a lawsuit. But I feel strongly and justice demands that those who acted so harmfully against our national security must answer for their shameful conduct in court.”

UN Imposes Sanctions on North Korea Over Missile Test

Jul 17, 2006

In news from Asia, the United Nations has unanimously agreed to impose sanctions on North Korea while condemning the country’s recent missile tests. The resolution requires all U.N. member states to stop imports and exports of any material or funds relating to the nation’s missile programs. The resolution also demanded North Korea “suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program,” and re-establish a moratorium on the launching of missiles.

  • North Korea’s Ambassador to the United Nations Pak Gil Yon, rejected the Security Council’s move: “The delegation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea resolutely condemns the attempt of some countries to misuse the Security Council for the despicable, political aim to isolate and put pressure on the DPRK and totally reject the resolution which was adopted at the current meeting of the Security Council a little while ago.”

Ford to Cut Up to 24,000 Jobs

Jul 17, 2006

In labor news, the Ford Motor Co. has announced plans to cut up to 24,000 hourly jobs in North America by the end of next year.

Hundreds Rally to Support Army Specialist Suzanne Swift

Jul 17, 2006

And in Washington State, about 250 people gathered outside the Fort Lewis military base on Saturday to show support for Suzanne Swift. She is the Army Specialist who has been arrested and confined to base for going AWOL after her charges of sexual harassment and assault went un-addressed by the military. Saturday was Suzanne’s 22nd birthday. Solidarity protests were held in St. Louis, New York, Honolulu, Maui, Kentucky, Philadelphia and Eugene.

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