Israel agreed to suspend the air strikes of Lebanon’s south for 48 hours to investigate the tragedy in the Lebanese town of Qana. Israeli missiles hit the bomb shelter under a 3-storyed building in whish about 60 people were hiding. Rescuers and local residents have pulled out 57 bodies from under the rubble; 37 of them are children. All the people were killed while sleeping.
Israeli officials emphasized that the decision to suspend the strikes did not imply a ceasefire possibility. The US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated, however, that Israel and Lebanon would sign the armistice during the current week.
The latest decision of the Israeli government is connected with an outburst of indignation caused with the bombing of the Lebanese town of Qana. Needless to say that the Israeli authorities refuse to acknowledge the fact of that the civilians hiding at night in the bomb shelter were killed with an Israeli missile. A top official of the Israeli Air Force Amir Eshel confirmed that Israel had struck at least six targets in the town of Qana. The official stressed out that the missile hit the area of the destroyed building between 12:00-01:00 a.m. whereas the explosion that demolished the building sounded at 7 a.m.
Hezbollah legislator Hassan Fadlallah, speaking for the guerrilla organization, raised the possibility that Hezbollah might stop firing rockets into northern Israel during the 48-hour suspension, the AP says.
"Shelling (Israeli) settlements is a Lebanese reaction to (Israel) shelling Lebanese civilians," Fadlallah told LBC television. "When Israel stops its aggression on the south, on Lebanon, on civilians ... naturally this reaction could stop. But has Israel stopped its aggression? It said it has suspended air operations, it did not suspend artillery or naval shelling."
Fadlallah - a former news director for Hezbollah's TV station Al-Manar - accused Israel of using the suspension as "an attempt to absorb international indignation over the Qana massacre."
The Israeli army said that the temporary cessation of aerial activity would allow the opening of corridors for 24 hours for Lebanese civilians who want to leave south Lebanon for the north and would maintain land, sea and air corridors for humanitarian assistance.
Israeli officials earlier left open the possibility that Israel might hit targets to stop imminent attacks on Israel, and that the suspension could last less than 48 hours if the military completes its inquiry into Sunday's incident in Qana before then.
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