After Qana Slaughter, Israel and Bush Administration Widen War in Lebanon
Interview with Ian Williams, U.N. correspondent with the Nation magazine, conducted by Scott Harris
As Israel's assault on Lebanon entered its fourth week, the rising number of civilian casualties has provoked worldwide calls for an unconditional and immediate cease-fire, a move blocked by Israel and the Bush administration. Israel's July 25 attack on a United Nations outpost in southern Lebanon -- killing four peacekeepers, followed by the July 30 airstrike on an apartment building in the city of Qana, killing 56 Lebanese civilians, including 34 children -- further angered the international community. Television images of dozens of dead children in Qana unleashed rage against Israel and the U.S. across the Arab world.
The attack on the U.N. compound was preceded by 10 calls to the Israeli military from U.N. personnel warning them that their artillery shells were striking dangerously close to the outpost. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was "shocked and deeply distressed by the apparently deliberate targeting ... of a U.N. observer post." He called on Israel to conduct a full investigation.
Following the Qana incident, Israel agreed to a 48-hour cessation of airstrikes in Lebanon, but quickly broke that pledge. On July 31, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced his government would widen its ground offensive in Lebanon. In response to the escalating conflict, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has placed his military on full alert. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Ian Williams, U.N. correspondent with the Nation magazine, who discusses the ongoing carnage in Lebanon and the major obstacles preventing a cease fire.
Ian Williams is author of "The United Nations for Beginners," published by Writers and Readers. Read his articles on the United Nations in the pages of the Nation magazine and online at www.thenation.com
* United for Peace and Justice at www.unitedforpeace.org
* U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation at www.endtheoccupation.org
* Institute for Policy Studies at www.ips.org
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