Peace Plan Floated As Missiles Crisscross Border - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/25/06-BEIRUT, Lebanon

Peace Plan Floated As Missiles Crisscross Border

Smoke billows from a southern Beirut neighborhood after an Israeli air raid Tuesday. Smoke billows from a southern Beirut neighborhood after an Israeli air raid Tuesday.
An Israeli firefighter hoses down a car hit by a Hezbollah rocket in Haifa, Israel, Tuesday. An Israeli firefighter hoses down a car hit by a Hezbollah rocket in Haifa, Israel, Tuesday.

 U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is proposing an ambitious plan with up to two international military forces that would help the Lebanese government stabilize the situation in southern Lebanon, Lebanese political sources said.

Rice pitched the plan Tuesday to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem, then traveled to the West Bank city of Ramallah for talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Rice's diplomatic moves came on the 14th day of the conflict sparked by Lebanon-based Hezbollah's capture of two Israeli soldiers.

Meanwhile, Israeli airstrikes continued to pound Lebanese cities, while Hezbollah rockets rained down on northern Israel.

Since July 12, at least 392 people, mostly civilians, have been killed and as many as 1,383 wounded in Lebanon, Lebanese security officials said Tuesday.

At least 41 Israelis have died, including 19 civilians, and at least 388 have been wounded, Israeli officials said.

The plan proposed by Rice initially would involve putting an international force of up to 10,000 Turkish and Egyptian troops under a NATO or U.N. commander into southern Lebanon following a cease-fire, the political sources say.

Another international force of up to 30,000 troops then would help the Lebanese government regain control over the region, the sources said.

Rice presented the plan Monday to Lebanese officials, the sources said, and will show it to European foreign ministers Wednesday in Rome, Italy.

U.S. and diplomatic sources said Lebanese officials are leaking details of the proposal because they are opposed to many of them.

The sources describe the plan as an outline or working proposal and note no one has agreed to it. They also said there are many hurdles to overcome before it could be implemented.

No letup in the fighting

An overnight Israeli airstrike hit a house in the village of Nabatiye, killing seven people, Lebanese security sources said.

The IDF only said its military operations have hit dozens of militants during ongoing fighting in Bint Jbeil, a town it dubbed Hezbollah's "terror capital."

Israel claimed Tuesday it had gained complete control of Bint Jbeil, according to Israel Defense Forces Gen. Gal Hirsch, who commands the Galilee division. The IDF said it had killed between 20 and 30 Hezbollah fighters in that area in the past 24 hours.

In Israel, a Katyusha rocket killed a 15-year-old girl Tuesday in the village of Meghar in Galilee, Israeli police and medical service officials said.

At least 18 people were injured in the port city of Haifa and one man died of a heart attack after a rocket struck near his home, officials said.

Huge explosions reverberated Tuesday afternoon through the southern suburbs of Beirut -- a Hezbollah stronghold -- sending smoke billowing through high-rise buildings.

Several Israeli strikes hit the Lebanese coastal city of Tyre. There was no official word yet on casualties.

Israel opens aid corridors

Israeli officials agreed during talks with Rice to make it easier to get humanitarian aid into Lebanon, a U.S. State Department official said.

Lebanese officials have pleaded with the United States to pressure Israel for an immediate cease-fire, but U.S. officials said conditions are not yet ripe for such a move, and they expect Israeli military operations to continue for another week or even longer.

The U.S. military Tuesday began delivering medical supplies to Beirut for distribution by aid agencies. Officials said the United States has pledged $30 million for humanitarian aid to Lebanon and immediately will supply 100,000 medical kits, 20,000 blankets and 2,000 rolls of plastic sheeting.

The U.S. announcement followed a U.N. appeal for nearly $150 million in humanitarian aid earlier this week.

Source: CNN

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