Lebanon fighting escalates as UN debates ceasefire

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Fifteen Israelis were killed and more than 115 injured in an attack that saw more than 180 missiles hit towns in northern Israel Sunday. At least seven rockets hit Haifa, Israel's third largest city, killing three and injuring more than 100. Other missiles have hit the Ma'alot, Carmiel and Kiryat Shmona.

Twelve reserve soldiers died when a Hezbollah missile hit Kfar Giladi in Israel. "The scene is very difficult, it can be described as a battlefield," Shimon Abutbul, a rescue worker at the scene said. "There was a lot of blood."

In Lebanon, 17 people were killed as Israeli warplanes and artillery struck southern Lebanon. Three Chinese UN peacekeepers were injured when a rocket landed near their post.

Israeli jets also struck the southern suburbs of Beirut.

Israel has announced the detention of a Hezbollah combatant suspected of being involved in the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers that prompted the Israeli incursion into Lebanon last month.

The mounting casualties occur as the UN Security Council continues discussions on a draft resolution to halt the fighting. France and the United States have agreed to the wording of a decree which is expected to come to a vote on Monday or Tuesday.

The draft calls for the "full cessation of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations".

The pending resolution has been welcomed by Israel but condemned by the Syrian foreign minister, Wallid Muallem, who called it a "recipe for the continuation of the war". A senior Lebanese official has said his country would reject the resolution because it does not ask that Israeli forces withdraw from Lebanese soil.