Home / International / International / International -- Update Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read | Comment
Israeli Army Begins Slow Withdrawal
Adjust font size:

Israeli soldiers began a slow withdrawal from southern Lebanon Tuesday, amid a tense ceasefire that already has been tested by skirmishes. Despite the tension Israeli and Hezbollah forces held their ground, raising hopes that a UN-imposed pact could stick.

Hezbollah guerrillas fired at least 10 rockets in southern Lebanon, but none crossed the border into Israel. The rockets followed the killing of at least six Hezbollah militiamen by Israeli troops on Monday.

Israel's military officials have made a tentative first gesture at possible post-conflict negotiations.

Officers said they have 13 Hezbollah prisoners and the bodies of dozens of guerrillas that could be offered in exchange for two captive soldiers, snatched in the July 12 cross-border raid that ignited the conflict, which has claimed close to 1,000 lives.

The ceasefire has seen both sides rushing to claim victory.

Both Israel and its main backer, the United States, have portrayed Hezbollah as the loser, implying that its supporters, Syria and Iran, have also been defeated. "There's going to be a new power in the south of Lebanon," said US president George W Bush.

But Hezbollah's leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, claimed a "strategic, historic victory." And many in the Arab and Muslim worlds would agree. Hezbollah's ability to withstand the vastly superior Israeli military, hitting back with deadly ambushes and cross-border rocket volleys, has given it heroic stature.

In Damascus, Syrian President Bashar Assad said the region has changed "because of the achievements" of Hezbollah, which turned US-supported political changes into "an illusion."

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has warned Israel and Lebanon against occupying additional territory and told them to refrain from responding to any attacks "except where clearly required in immediate self-defence."

In letters to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, sent on Sunday, Annan has set out the UN's expectations for how both sides should fulfill their obligations under the Security Council resolution adopted last Friday.

Annan said that once hostilities ceased there must be no firing from the ground, sea or air into the other side's territory or at its forces. Neither side can occupy or seek to occupy any additional territory from the other side, he added.

Lebanon is under intense international pressure to move soldiers south into Hezbollah territory a key element of the UN Security Council plan to end the conflict.

And Tuesday Lebanon's defence minister, Elias Murr, said the country's 15,000 peace-keeping soldiers could be on the north side of the Litani River, which marks the northern edge of southern Lebanon, by the end of the week.

But even then they will have to cross the river and try to enforce the government's control over Hezbollah areas for the first time in decades.

Controversially Murr Tuesday said the Lebanese army would not ask Hezbollah to hand over its weapons.

Lebanese troops will form half of a 30,000 peace-keeping force, with the rest supplied by other UN member-states.

Meanwhile in war torn Gaza Israel's assault on which has been largely overshadowed by the conflict in Lebanon Palestinian militants Tuesday fired two homemade rockets into Israel.

The rockets landed near the community of Nahal Oz, the Israeli army said. There were no injuries.

(China Daily August 16, 2006)


Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read
Pet Name
China Archives
Related >>
- UNSC Unanimously Adopts Resolution on Lebanon
- Battles Rage on Eve of UN Truce
- Olive Branch Within Reach
- Moussa Talks with Chinese Envoy on Lebanon
- After Truce, the Sound of Silence
- Ceasefire in Mideast Is Welcome, But Precarious
Most Viewed >>
> Korean Nuclear Talks
> Reconstruction of Iraq
> Middle East Peace Process
> Iran Nuclear Issue
> 6th SCO Summit Meeting
- China Development Gateway
- Foreign Ministry
- Network of East Asian Think-Tanks
- China-EU Association
- China-Africa Business Council
- China Foreign Affairs University
- University of International Relations
- Institute of World Economics & Politics
- Institute of Russian, East European & Central Asian Studies
- Institute of West Asian & African Studies
- Institute of Latin American Studies
- Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies
- Institute of Japanese Studies