Monday, July 31, 2006

Far too late, Dr Rice

It's time to talk ceasefire, says US

THE 19-day-old war in the Middle East has reached a turning point, with Israel's deadliest attack yet killing 54 people in southern Lebanon and the United States declaring it is time for a ceasefire.

Images of dead children - 37 children, police said - being dragged from the building in Qana, southern Lebanon provoked international condemnation and shattered the ceasefire talks.

In Jerusalem, Dr Rice said she was saddened by the attack: "I think it is time to get to a ceasefire. We actually have to try and put one in place."

Photo: AP/Nasser Nasser

63 members of the Chalhoub and Hashem families had been sheltering in the basement of one house when the attack occurred at 1.30 in the morning. One little blond boy of about three years was placed limply on a stretcher by a Red Cross volunteer, his dummy still attached to his shirt by a plastic chain.

Abbas Kassam, 31, a local man, said he knew both families, whose menfolk worked in construction and in tobacco. "There was a 13-month-old baby and a lot of children," he said. "The Israelis have planes and they see everything on the ground. They must have seen kids playing in front of this building.

Mothers embraced their dead children, still wearing their pyjamas they had gone to sleep in, while others retrieved the bodies and took them away.

The bodies of 23 children were among those recovered from the rubble of dozens of buildings that collapsed after the bombardment, said Salam Daher, the civil defence chief in the region.

"I retrieved my son and my husband, Sheik Mohamad, who were wounded. But when I came back to get my daughter who had stayed in the shelter, it was too late because the building had crumpled," cried a woman identified as Rahba.

Sydney Morning Herald

Hundreds of innocent people killed, very many of them children, on both sides of the border, lives torn apart, thousands have lost their homes, their livelihoods...and the best we can get from the one country that could have stopped it, but refused to do so, is "I think it is time to get to a ceasefire."

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