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Israeli bombs kill 11 in Lebanon

india Updated: Aug 11, 2006 14:04 IST
Reuters
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Israeli air raids killed 11 people in north Lebanon on Friday amid more wrangling at the United Nations over a draft resolution to end the month-old war between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas.

The strikes on a bridge near the northern border with Syria also wounded 18 people, hospital officials said.

Beirut awoke to a dozen thunderous raids on Shi'ite Muslim suburbs before dawn. There was no immediate word on casualties in those raids.

Washington's UN ambassador John Bolton, said on Thursday the Security Council would work into the night to seek agreement on a text that the United States and France have tried to draft.

"I have not at all given up on the prospect that we might yet vote (on Friday)," Bolton told reporters.

But no text has been introduced to the 15-member council because Lebanon has demanded changes that Israel must also approve. Some envoys say a resolution could be adopted on Saturday.

Russia proposed a resolution calling for a 72-hour truce to alleviate a "catastrophic" humanitarian crisis as a stop-gap should the US-French draft resolution be delayed further.

"Unfortunately, we at this point came to the conclusion that we do not have an immediate prospect of this resolution being accepted," said Moscow's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin.

Israel rejected the Russian proposal, saying it would help Hezbollah "regroup and recover".

The war, triggered after Hezbollah seized two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on July 12, has killed at least 1,018 people in Lebanon. At least 122 Israelis have been killed.

The Israeli casualties and constant Hezbollah rocket attacks have eroded public support in Israel for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defence Minister Amir Peretz, an opinion poll showed.

The main sticking point at the United Nations has been the timing of Israel's withdrawal from south Lebanon and the arrival of an international force and the Lebanese army in the area.

France, which might lead the international force, and the United States appear to have reached agreement but it has been hard to craft a text Israel, Lebanon and Hezbollah can accept.

Lebanon wants an immediate ceasefire and a swift Israeli withdrawal. Israel says it will fight on until foreign troops and the Lebanese army move in -- a stance backed by Washington, which fears a security vacuum that could let Hezbollah regroup.

Diplomats said US and Israeli officials were discussing proposals for staged reductions in Israeli military operations as Lebanese and foreign troops were deployed in south Lebanon.

Churkin said Beirut was objecting to a beefed-up UN peacekeeping force mandated under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which authorises the use of force. Lightly armed UN troops already in south Lebanon can fire only in self-defence.

The war intensified even though Israel said it had put on hold plans for a deeper ground offensive to give diplomacy a chance.

"Fifteen casualties in one day proves what price we could pay if we do not try to make the most of the political move," Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres said in a reference to the Israeli military death toll on Wednesday.

The conflict also appeared to be inflicting political damage on Olmert, who was elected in March.

A survey in Israel's Haaretz daily found only 48 per cent of Israelis were satisfied with his performance against over 75 per cent early in the war.

The conflict has created a humanitarian crisis, especially in southern Lebanon where aid agencies said hospitals were running out of food, fuel and other supplies.

UN emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland said a ceasefire was of critical importance.

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