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WARFARE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Israel to Halt Bombing for 48 Hours

South Lebanon Civilians to Be Evacuated After Airstrike Kills Up to 56

July 31, 2006|Paul Richter and Laura King | Times Staff Writers

"The United States' ability to protect Israel" in international bodies such as the U.N. Security Council "is being stretched very thin, and I think Israel is offering this measure, this suspension, to try to relieve some of that pressure," Leverett said.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

A bloody day

Lebanon

An Israeli airstrike demolishes a three-story home in Qana, killing as many as 56 members of two extended families who are asleep in the basement. More than half of the dead are children. In a second ground invasion, Israeli soldiers march across the border to the west and north of the Israeli town of Metulla as more than a dozen tanks and armored personnel carriers line up along the border. Eight Israeli soldiers are reported wounded in clashes in and around the Lebanese village of Adessa.

Israel

Hezbollah fires at least 140 rockets into northern Israel, wounding several people.

Reaction

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expresses "deep sorrow" for the Qana deaths, but blames Hezbollah guerrillas for using the area to launch rockets. Israel says it will conduct a full investigation of the deadly attack. Angry crowds protest the airstrike in Cairo, Beirut and Gaza City. In Lebanon, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora calls for an unconditional cease-fire. Syria also demands an immediate cease-fire, and President Bashar Assad calls the attack a massacre. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak condemns the bombing. In Jordan, King Abdullah II calls it a "horrible crime" and asks the international community to find a quick solution.

Diplomacy

Israel agrees to halt air attacks on southern Lebanon for 48 hours after talks in Jerusalem with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. A U.S. official announces the decision; Israeli officials offer no comment. The U.N. Security Council passes a statement expressing "extreme shock and distress" over the Qana attack, but does not condemn it. The incident forces Rice to cancel a visit to Lebanon.

Sources: Times staff reporting, the Associated Press

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Times staff writers Rone Tempest in Beirut, Ken Ellingwood and Damon Winter in Metulla, Josh Meyer and Greg Miller in Washington, Walter Hamilton at the U.N. and Tracy Wilkinson in Rome contributed to this report.

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