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Children die in convoy attack as Israel widens Lebanon assault
'" Dear friends and colleagues ,You will all have to excuse me for sending this. It's pictures of the bodies of babies killed by the Israelis in South Lebanon. They are all burnt. I need your help. I am almost certain these pictures won't be published in the West, although they are Associated Press pictures. I need your help exposing them if you can..."
Editors Note: The follwing unpublished AP photos above were provided by Hanady Salman, an editor at the Beirut daily, As-Safir, with the following message:"
Dear friends and colleagues ,You will all have to excuse me for sending this. It's pictures of the bodies of babies killed by the Israelis in South Lebanon. They are all burnt. I need your help. I am almost certain these pictures won't be published in the West, although they are Associated Press pictures. I need your help exposing them if you can. The problem is these are people who were asked to leave their village, Ter Hafra , this morning , within two hours , or else. .. So those who were able to flee went to the closer UN base where they were asked to leave. I think that after the Qana massacres in 1996 when civilians were bombed after they took shelter in UN headquarters , the UN does not want to be responsible for the lives of civilians.A FEW MINUTES AGO , the Israelis asked the people of Al Bustan village in the south to evacuate their homes. I am afraid massacares will keep happening as long as Israeli actions are uncheked. Please help us if you can".. The message and photos are reposted from As'aad Abu khail's blog Angry Arab News Service
Children die in convoy attack as Israel widens Lebanon assault
- Inigo Gilmore in Nahariyah, Patrick Wintour in St Petersburg and Tracy McVeigh
Sunday July 16, 2006
Israel steeply escalated its military campaign against Hizbollah in Lebanon yesterday with a series of air strikes that left more than 35 civilians dead, including a single strike on a convoy of families fleeing the fighting in a village near Tyre in the south of the country that killed more than 20 people, most of them children.
The intensification of the conflict, in which Hizbollah fired missiles deep intoIsrael, came as international leaders appeared to be deeply split over how to respond to a crisis that threatens to spill over into a full-scale war involving Syria and Iran as well as Israel, Palestine and Lebanon. Last night the Lebanese Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora, declared the country in a 'state of catastrophe'.
According to witnesses and photographs from the scene of the worst incident, an Israeli missile incinerated a car and a small truck full of families leaving their Lebanese border village of Marwaheen near Tyre after the Israeli army used loudhailers to tell residents they had just hours to go. Pictures showed charred bodies of children strewn across the road.
UN peacekeepers recovered the bodies. Half the passengers were children or teenagers, according to medical sources. It was the deadliest single strike since Israel started an air campaign against Lebanon after two of its soldiers were captured by Hizbollah on Wednesday.
Relatives gathered at a hospital to identify the dead said they came from two families - Abdallah and Ghanem.
Around 100 residents sought shelter at a nearby UN base, but left after officials were unable to confirm the warning by Israel, a UN spokesman said.
Other residents had tried later to leave and were killed in the missile strike, the spokesman said, adding that the Lebanese authorities had asked the UN to help evacuate about 160 people remaining in Marwaheen. They would be relocated in the morning. Relatives blamed the UN for the deaths, pelting peacekeepers with stones when they arrived with the bodies after the strike.
"If they had taken people in to begin with then they would never have died," said Mohammed Oqla, who was at the hospital.
Last night an Israeli military spokeswoman said they were still investigating the reports of the incident.
Other air strikes flattened Hizbollah's headquarters in Beirut and attacked roads, bridges and petrol stations in the north, east and south of Lebanon, cutting the country off from the outside world and hitting Hizbollah strongholds including the leader Hassan Nasrallah's home and office. The northern port of Tripoli was also attacked, the deepest strike yet into Lebanese territory.
Israel's campaign has so far killed at least 100 people, all but three of them civilians, and choked off Lebanon's economy, including its growing tourism industry.
On a separate front, Israeli troops also yesterday fired several missiles at targets in Gaza, killing at least two.
Hizbollah fired dozens of rockets into Israel, some reaching Tiberias, 22 miles inside the border, the furthest Hizbollah missiles have so far reached. They killed two Israeli civilians and injured several.
One Katyusha rocket hit the roof of a seven-floor apartment building in the Shmuel neighbourhood of Tiberias, a hillside overlooking the Sea of Galilee, damaging several homes.
There were furious political exchanges throughout the region, with Israel accusing Iran of supplying increasingly sophisticated weapons to Hizbollah. Israel claims that the device that damaged one of its naval ships off the Lebanese coast on Friday, killing four sailors, was an Iranian-made guided missile.
Tension grew when Israeli warplanes fired four rockets at a border crossing point between Lebanon and Syria yesterday - Iran has threatened Israel that it will respond ferociously if there is any incursion into Syrian territory. But Syria swiftly announced that there had been no attacks within its borders.
There is a growing chasm in the international community. President George Bush yesterday angrily rounded on Hizbollah for starting the violence and demanded Syria intervene.
At a joint press conference with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, at the G8 summit in St Petersburg, he said: 'In my judgment, the best way to stop the violence is to understand why the violence occurred in the first place.' Bush, visibly angry, added: 'And that's because Hizbollah has been launching rocket attacks out of Lebanon into Israel and because Hizbollah captured two Israeli soldiers. The best way to stop the violence is for Hizbollah to lay down its arms and to stop attacking. And therefore, I call on Syria to exert influence over Hizbollah.'
But in keeping with Russia's traditional role as a counterweight to the US in the Middle East, President Putin added: 'We believe that the use of force must be balanced. But in any case the bloodshed must be stopped as soon as possible.'
The European Union has asked Israel to show restraint and Britain was yesterday trying desperately tried to straddle the divide between America and other world leaders at the G8 summit, by saying it would not become involved in the 'blame game', or 'finger pointing'.
Number 10 instead focused on trying to find what it described as a 'mechanism' to de-escalate the crisis.
The EU, France and Russia have all condemned the Israeli air strikes as 'disproportionate' but Tony Blair's spokesman, speaking on the way to the G8 summit, refused to condemn the Israeli actions. Instead he said it was essential for the captured Israeli soldiers to be released 'and for all sides to act with constraint'.