- Title: VARIOUS: Israeli warplanes continue to batter Lebanon, killing 26 people.
- Date: 18th July 2006
- Summary: TRUCK UNDER RUBBLE
- Embargoed: 2nd August 2006 17:52
- Topics: War / Fighting,International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA4I5Z9K9DOWX5VMH322PBI2ALD
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: Israeli warplanes battered Lebanon on Tuesday (July 18), killing 29 people, and more Hizbollah rockets hit the Israeli city of Haifa, with no sign that diplomacy would halt the week-old conflict any time soon.
Nine family members, including children, were killed and four wounded in an air strike on their house in the village of Aitaroun. Five people were killed in other strikes in the south and two in air raids on the Bekaa Valley.
Israeli overnight air raids pounded a Hizbollah compound located in a southern Beirut suburb, destroying most of it.
The compound, named "Moujama Sayyed al Shouhada" meaning 'Compound of Martyrs master' used to host Hizbollah religious and political celebrations and commemorations.
Lebanese President Emile Lahoud toured the Al Jamhour army barracks east of Beirut where an air strike killed 11 soldiers, including four officers, and wounded 30.
A truck carrying medical supplies donated by the United Arab Emirates was hit and its driver killed on the Beirut-Damascus highway, the Health Ministry said. The Lebanese TV station LBC showed pictures of a burning lorry carrying food aid in the Bekaa Valley.
Hizbollah, a Shi'ite Muslim group backed by Syria and Iran, said one of its fighters had been killed, but gave no details.
Israel's army refused to rule out a ground invasion, only six years after it ended a 22-year occupation of south Lebanon.
Israel's campaign has killed 233 people, all but 26 of them civilians, and inflicted the heaviest damage on Lebanon since the 1982 Israeli invasion to expel Palestinian guerrillas.
Hizbollah has responded by attacking an Israeli naval vessel off Beirut, killing four sailors, and firing hundreds of rockets across the border, killing 12 Israelis.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for a bigger, more robust international force to stabilise southern Lebanon and buy time for the Lebanese government to disarm Hizbollah guerrillas.
Shrugging off U.S. and Israeli reluctance, Annan said he expected European troops to join the proposed force in a bid to end the fighting and prevent a wider Middle East conflagration.
Annan and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have urged the U.N. Security Council to deploy a security force in Lebanon but Israel says it is too early to discuss it and Washington has questioned how it could stop Hizbollah from attacking Israel.
"It is urgent that the international community acts to make a difference on the ground, and when I talk of action, I am not talking of statements or exhortations, but really actual specific, concrete action. That is one of the reasons why I propose that we do send in a stabilisation force, we do put forward a package for the Security Council to act on, urge the parties to accept it and begin to move to put troops on the ground in the form of stabilisation force and insist on cessation of hostilities," Annan said in Brussels, suggesting a force that would operate differently from toothless U.N. peacekeepers who have patrolled south Lebanon since 1978.
"I would expect contributions from European countries and others, countries from other regions," he added.
Lebanon has repeatedly called for an immediate ceasefire, but world powers said any solution to the crisis must include the release of the two soldiers seized last week. Israel also wants Hizbollah to disarm in line with council resolutions.
The Beirut government is too weak and divided to force Hizbollah to yield to such demands.
The Shi'ite group wants to swap the soldiers for Lebanese and Arabs in Israeli jails. Israel has rejected any such deal.
In Iran more than 1,000 people protested against the Israeli attacks on Lebanon in the centre of Tehran on Tuesday, some waving yellow flags bearing the motif of the Iranian-backed Hizbollah group.
Some Iranian demonstrators, who were also protesting against Israeli attacks on Palestinians in Gaza, waved placards saying "Down with USA", a typical feature of political protests in the Islamic Republic, or chanted "Down with Israel".
Iran says it gives moral support to Hizbollah but denies accusations that Iranian troops or missiles have been used by the Lebanese Shi'ite Muslim group in the latest clash.
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