Thursday, July 13, 2006

Acts Of War

Israel continued to subject Lebanon to strikes by land, sea and air, following the capture of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah militants. More than 50 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the attacks. Soon after nightfall Israeli forces fired at Beirut's airport for a second time, setting fuel tanks on fire.

Hezbollah has responded with rocket attacks on Israeli towns, and Israeli sources said it had fired on the northern port city of Haifa. Israeli police have also said two rockets had fallen on a Christian area of Haifa called Stella Maris. Hezbollah has fired dozens of rockets into Israel in the past two days, killing at least two Israelis and injuring dozens.

International calls for calm are growing, with Russia, France and the EU saying Israel's response to the capture of two soldiers was disproportionate. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Israel to exercise restraint but also demanded that Syria put pressure on Hezbollah to stop attacks on Israel. Secretary’s Rice call is more appropriate. It must be remembered that Israel did only react after being attacked by Hezbollah and in the South, Hamas. Both areas where Israeli soldiers now are fighting, had been land ceded by Israel in the past decade in an attempt at peace.

The pressure now is on Mr Olmert, an inexperienced leader (no military background) in his first big crisis. With the United States focus in Iraq, Israel has some time to react. The question is what Mr. Olmert will do, how both Hamas and Hezbollah will act and what the Palestinian Authority and Syrian government will do about them.

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