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HeadlinesJuly 31, 2006

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Lebanon Mourns 57 Civilians Killed in Israeli Strike on Qana

Jul 31, 2006

Lebanon is marking a national day of mourning following Sunday’s Israeli air strike in the town of Qana that killed about 57 civilians, mostly children. Israel has announced it will temporarily halt air strikes in southern Lebanon but its ground troops continue to fight in the south. The Lebanese government says the killings in Qana bring the death toll in Lebanon to about 750 since the war began 20 days ago. Israeli warplanes bombed the village of Qana at around 1 a.m. on Sunday. A missile hit a three-story building where relatives from two extended families were seeking refuge. As many as 57 died including 37 children. There were only eight survivors. The youngest of the dead was 10 months old. The oldest was 95. One person was in a wheelchair. Survivors said the family didn’t have enough money to evacuate to a safer area. Rescue workers were unable to reach the site for hours because Israeli warplanes continued to attack the area. No weapons were found in the building that was hit.

Qana Survivor: My Brother, Sister and Daughter Have Died

Jul 31, 2006

One of the survivors, Mohamad Shelhoub, spoke to reporters from his hospital bed in Tyre.

  • Mohamad Shelhoub: “Last night we heard Israeli planes flying over us. We were about 50 people in the room, about 30 children. Most of the children died. I’m not a fighter, neither is my wife. We are disabled people. We were sleeping in the shelter. My brother, my sister died and also my daughter who was six years old. My wife is here, she was wounded too.”

For Qana, history has repeated itself. In 1996, more than 106 villagers died after Israel bombed the UN compound where they were seeking refuge. Sunday’s attack was met by outcry from the around the world.

Lebanese PM Calls For Immediate Ceasefire

Jul 31, 2006

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora accused Israel of committing war crimes and called for a ceasefire.

  • Fouad Siniora: “There is no place on this sad morning for any discussion other than an immediate and unconditional ceasefire as well as an international investigation into the Israeli massacres in Lebanon now.”

Hezbollah spokesperson Ibrahim Mosawi vowed revenge.

  • Ibrahim Mosawi: “This should be condemned and not only condemned. It should be addressed properly by the international community, especially by those countries that are supporting Israel. They are sending more smart bombs to dirty hands and dirty minds. They have to expect more massacres of this regard and the Israelis should expect a very heavy retaliation from Hizbollah in this sense.”

Israel Suspends Air Strikes; Blames Hezbollah

Jul 31, 2006

On Sunday the United States announced Israel would suspend air attacks for 48 hours in order to investigate the killings. But Israel is reserving the right to carry out attacks from the ground and to strike at suspected militants preparing to launch rockets. Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman accused Hezbollah of possibly being responsible for the civilian deaths.

  • Dan Gillerman: “Israel has besieged and asked repeatedly for the residents of Qana to leave. I would not be surprised if the Hizbollah made them stay.”

The Israeli military said that Qana had been targeted because Hizbullah had been using the village as a base from which to launch rockets. Two days before the Qana bombing Israel’s Justice Minister Haim Ramon said “All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah.” The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, also blamed Hezbollah.

  • John Bolton: “Hizbollah’s actions as a terrorist organization are obviously the fundamental cause of the current conflict and it says something about the morality and respect for human life of Hizbollah that they would use innocent civilians as shields.”

Rice Calls for UN Ceasefire Resolution

Jul 31, 2006

At the United Nations, the UN Security Council passed a resolution expressing extreme shock and distress over the Qana bombing. The United States forced the council to water down its statement so that Israel was not openly criticized. Earlier today, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States will seek a UN resolution calling for a ceasefire this week.

  • Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: “Based on what we have accomplished and the urgency of the situation we will call for United Nation Security Council action this week on a comprehensive settlement that includes 3 parts: a ceasefire, the political principles that provide for a long-term settlement, and the authorization of an international force to support the Lebanese army in keeping the peace.”

Secretary of State Rice was visiting Israel at the time of the bombing of Qana. She was scheduled to travel to Beirut but Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora warned her not to come until a cease-fire is in place.

5,000 Lebanese Protesters Storm UN Base in Beirut

Jul 31, 2006

In Beirut, over 5,000 Lebanese protesters stormed the United Nations compound in protest. Independent journalist Dahr Jamail was there.

Iraqi Shiite Cleric Sistani Warns Dire Consequences If No Ceasefire

Jul 31, 2006

Meanwhile in Iraq, the country’s top Shiite cleric — Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. has warned “If an immediate cease-fire in this Israeli aggression is not imposed, dire consequences will befall the region.’’

Hezbollah Fires 140 Rockets Into Israel; 8 Hurt

Jul 31, 2006

The Lebanese government says at least 750 people have died since the war began 20 days ago. Most of the dead have been civilians. Meanwhile 19 Israeli civilians as well as 33 soldiers have died. On Sunday, Hezbollah fired 140 rockets into northern Israel. Eight people were wounded including a correspondent of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Meanwhile an Israeli soldier named Amir Fester has been sentenced to 28 days in a military prison after he refused to fight in Lebanon.

Aid Groups Try to Reached Civilians in Southern Lebanon

Jul 31, 2006

International aid groups are continuing to try to reach trapped civilians. On Saturday, Israel rejected a plea from the United Nations for a 72-hour ceasefire to allow aid to be distributed. The UN food agency was then forced to cancel an aid convoy carrying medicines, flour, canned meat and vegetable oil to southern Lebanon because it did not have Israeli authorization. Mercycorps spokesperson Cassandra Nelson warned Southern Lebanon could face a public health epidemic.

  • Cassandra Nelson: “We’ve already seen in some of these areas outbreak of diarrhoea in small children and we are very concerned about escalating health crisis from water borne illnesses, things can result in hepatitis, and different kind of diseases that can really effect the most vulnerable of the population, children, nursing mothers and the elderly.”

2 Million Protest In Mexico City For Vote Recount

Jul 31, 2006

As many as 2 million people rallied in Mexico City on Sunday to call for a full recount in the country’s disputed presidential election. Presidential runner-up Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador urged his supporters to camp out in the city’s streets until a recount occurs.

  • Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador: “I propose we stay here day and night until the votes are counted and we have a president-elect with the minimum legality that we Mexicans deserve.”

Within hours of the protest, people began setting up tents across the capital. Sunday’s rally was the third and largest protest organized by supporters of Lopez Obrador since the July 2nd election which he lost by about half of a percentage point.

U.S. Troop Levels in Iraq Up to 127,000

Jul 31, 2006

In Iraq, the number of U.S. troops has increased to 127,000. The Financial Times reports the US administration has quietly reversed its goal of whittling down troop numbers in Iraq before the mid-term congressional elections in November. Earlier today an armed group wearing Iraqi national police uniforms kidnapped 25 workers at the offices of the “US-Iraqi Chamber of Trade” in central Baghdad.

Congo Holds First Election in Over 45 Years

Jul 31, 2006

Votes are being counted in the Democratic Republic of Congo a day after the country held its first multi-party elections in over 45 years. Final election results are not expected for several weeks.

  • President Joseph Kabila is expected to win the election. Joseph Kabila: “This is the most important day in the history of our country, since 1960. It’s a victory for the people, who have suffered. There you have it. I believe that this day will mark a victory for our country and our people.”

White House Fears U.S. Officials Could Be Tried Under War Crimes Act

Jul 31, 2006

Concern is growing within the White House that top members of the administration could be tried under the 1996 War Crimes Act. The law criminalizes violations of the Geneva Conventions and threatens the death penalty if U.S.-held detainees die in custody from abusive treatment. The Washington Post is reporting that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has spoken privately with Republican lawmakers about the need to protect administration officials and soldiers from being tried for war crimes.

Proposed Law Would Allow Gov’t to Indefinitely Detain U.S. Citizens

Jul 31, 2006

The Bush administration is proposing a new law that could allow the government to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens and bar them from access to civilian courts. The draft legislation is intended to authorize the Pentagon to try detainees by military tribunal. But some legal experts are warning that the bill would also allow the military to indefinitely detain so-called enemy combatants. The bill defines enemy combatants as anyone “engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners who has committed an act that violates the law of war and this statute.” According to the Associated Press, the administration’s proposal would toss out several legal rights common in civilian and military courts, including barring hearsay evidence, guaranteeing “speedy trials” and granting a defendant access to evidence. The proposal also would allow defendants to be barred from their own trial and likely allow the submission of coerced testimony.

Report: Oakland Police Infiltrated Anti-War Group

Jul 31, 2006

In Oakland, newly released documents show that the city’s police infiltrated the group Direct Action to Stop the War three years ago. Two undercover Oakland police officers managed to get themselves elected to leadership positions in an effort to influence a May 2003 anti-war protest. The undercover officers ended up spying on the protest organizers and even helped plan the route of the march.

Man Arrested in Fatal Shooting at Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle

Jul 31, 2006

In Seattle, police have arrested a man in connection with a fatal shooting at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. The shooting left one person dead and five injured. Naveed Afzal Haq has been charged with one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder. During the shooting Haq reportedly shouted about his anger about Israel, the war in Lebanon and Iraq. Seattle Mayor Greg Nickles condemned the shooting.

  • Greg Nickles: “This is a crime of hate, there’s no place for that in the city of Seattle. This was a purposeful, hateful act, as far as we know by an individual acting alone.”

Social Egologist Murray Bookchin, 85, Dies

Jul 31, 2006

And the anarchist scholar and activist Murray Bookchin has died at the age of 85. He was the co-founder of the Institute for Social Ecology in Vermont.

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