Lebanon: death toll tops 200

From DPA, July 18:

At least 47 people were killed in Israeli strikes in Lebanon on Monday and 10 more bodies were found, pushing the death toll from the Israeli offensive to more than 200 over the past six days.

The overall toll now comprises 195 civilians and 12 soldiers killed in Lebanon since Wednesday, medics and police said. Nine of the 12 soldiers were killed on Monday. More than 440 people have been wounded.

Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shiite militant group in back-and- forth strikes with Israel, announced the death of one of its fighters, bringing its losses to four.

In Monday’s deadliest strike, an Israeli missile fired at a minibus killed 12 civilians as they were driving through the seaside town of Rmeileh, south of Beirut.

Three other civilians were killed as they walked in their southern village of Burj Rashal. An Israeli warplane fired a missile that struck the village. Four other people were wounded.

The Red Cross said the bodies of 10 people – all members of the same family – were discovered Monday in the debris of a building in the southern port of Tyre that was hit by Israeli aircraft Sunday.

The number of deaths in the heavily pounded southern suburbs of Beirut, a Hezbollah stronghold, was not immediately known.

EuroNews reports that 24 Israelis have been killed, half of them civilians, since the fighting with Lebanon started last week. Meanwhile, Bush is giving an unequivocal green light to Israel’s aggression. AP, July 14:

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia – President Bush refused to press Israel for a cease-fire in Mideast violence Friday, risking a wider breach with world leaders at a weekend summit already confronting crises with Iran and North Korea.

Flying here from Germany, Bush called the leaders of Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan to explore ways to end three days of furious fighting between Israel and Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. Turning aside complaints that Israel is using excessive force, Bush rejected a cease-fire plea from Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora.

“The president is not going to make military decisions for Israel,” White House press secretary Tony Snow said. He said it was unlikely that either side would agree to a cease-fire now.

The other G8 leaders are taking harder lines, especially Russia, France and Italy. As the summit wraps up, a statement on the Lebanon crisis is expected, but the US is trying “to shape it to be critical of Hezbollah and supportive of Lebanon’s fragile government,” rather than critical of Israel.

See our last reports on Israel/Palestine and Lebanon.