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Israel Moves to Suspend Air Attacks for 2 Days After Strike in Lebanese Village Kills 57 Civilians

Thousands of Lebanese youths, many of them supporters of Hezbollah, smash glass at the entrance to the U.N. headquarters in Beirut. They protested hours before the U.N. Security Council called for an end to the violence in Lebanon.
Thousands of Lebanese youths, many of them supporters of Hezbollah, smash glass at the entrance to the U.N. headquarters in Beirut. They protested hours before the U.N. Security Council called for an end to the violence in Lebanon. (By Ben Curtis -- Associated Press)

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"We scream out to the world community to stand united in the face of Israel's war criminals," Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora said in an English-language declaration that appeared to be aimed at Rice. "There is no place on this sad morning for any discussion other than an immediate and unconditional cease-fire and an international investigation into the Israeli massacres."

President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, a close U.S. ally, swiftly condemned the bombing as "irresponsible." King Abdullah of Jordan, another U.S. ally, called it "an ugly crime." And President Jacques Chirac of France, who has been pushing hard for an immediate cease-fire, described it as an "unjustifiable action" that underlined the need for the shooting to stop.

About 10,000 Lebanese, most of them young men sympathetic to Hezbollah, gathered in downtown Beirut to demonstrate against the killings. "This is against that dog Rice," shouted Ali Qassim, 30, who fled his home in south Lebanon.

"All this democracy that the American ambassador is always talking to us about, this is it?" another refugee yelled. "If he has any honor, let him get out of Lebanon. Get out."

More than 2,000 Palestinian demonstrators gathered in Gaza City on Sunday night to condemn the Israeli attacks in a rally organized by Hamas, the Islamic movement that controls the Palestinian government, and the militant group Islamic Jihad. In Cairo, there was a large demonstration that included more than 100 members of parliament, al-Arabiya satellite television reported.

In Beirut, Hussein Hajj Hassan, a Hezbollah member of parliament, called on Siniora to expel the U.S. ambassador, Jeffrey D. Feltman, and said Rice should never be allowed back to Lebanon.

Lebanese security officials said Hezbollah leaders had notified Siniora soon after the extent of bloodshed became known that Rice should not be allowed to return to Beirut. Siniora, who has been Rice's main interlocutor in negotiations in the past week, told Rice not to show up when she called him later. "I talked with Secretary Rice this morning, and I told her we cannot go on negotiating while Israel is bombing and killing innocent women and children," Siniora told a gathering of ambassadors accredited to Lebanon.

Feltman, the U.S. ambassador, did not attend the gathering, citing security concerns, a Siniora aide said.

Rice expressed sorrow at the civilian deaths and said she had pressed on Israeli leaders the need to take more care to avoid such tragedies. "In the wake of the tragedy that the people and government of Lebanon are dealing with today, I have decided to postpone my discussions in Beirut," she told reporters. "In any case, my work is here today." Several hours later, her aides announced she was leaving in the morning.

Qana, the village where the killings occurred, lies about 15 miles southeast of Tyre, just north of the border with Israel. The village was the scene of another large-scale killing in 1996, when Israeli missiles hit a U.N. post where civilians had gathered for safety, killing 106.

Villagers said Sunday's attack lasted from midnight until a little past dawn. Bombs landed on the building where 63 people were sheltered at about 1 a.m.

The village bore the signs of the assault: Rubble was strewn through the street, and several buildings had collapsed. The red-tile roof of a large villa was peeled off, as in the aftermath of a tornado. Wires hung from utility poles, one of them bent in half. A remnant of a weapon was tossed in front of the house. It read, "For use on MK-84, Guided Bomb BSU-37/B (ASSY) 96214-700922-6."


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