Israeli attack kills 37 children - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/30/06-TYRE, Lebanon

Israeli attack kills 37 children

A body is removed from the scene of the air attack in Qana, Lebanon. A body is removed from the scene of the air attack in Qana, Lebanon.

 Israel said it mistakenly destroyed a four-story building near a Hezbollah rocket-launching site in Qana, Lebanon, on Sunday where the Red Cross said 54 people died, including 37 children.

A Red Cross official said the airstrikes hit a residential building that housed refugees, which Israel said was near Hezbollah rocket launching sites.

"The building itself was not targeted," Israeli government spokeswoman Miri Eisen told CNN. "The building itself was next to the rocket-launcher sites and we are targeting all of those rocket-launcher sites. This was a mistake and we will have a full investigation."

Outrage over the attack sparked protests in Beirut, and in Jerusalem, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice postponed talks in the Lebanese capital regarding a cease-fire proposal.

Israeli aircraft hit the four-story residential building in Qana early Sunday, Lebanese army sources said.

Video broadcast by Arab TV showed the bloodied bodies of women and children who appeared to be wearing night clothes. Many of the bodies were under rubble in the basement of the building.

The IDF said that residents had been warned to leave by radio announcements and by air-leaflets because it was a combat area.

France, Jordan, and the European Union said the attack underscored the need for an immediate cease-fire in the 19-day conflict between Israel and Lebanon-based Hezbollah militia, which began after Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers on July 12.

In Beirut, hundreds of protestors angry about the attack broke into the United Nations compound on Sunday afternoon. Video of the scene showed people smashing glass walls protecting the U.N. building.

Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz told Israel Defense Forces Sunday to investigate the Qana attack, the minister's spokesman said.

Hours after the attack, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora called for an immediate, unconditional cease-fire and an international probe of the Qana attack.

Rice said she was "deeply saddened" by the deaths and would continue her peace mission.

"I will continue to meet with Israeli officials as we work to bring in place the elements the necessary to put an end to the conflict," Rice said during a Jerusalem news conference. "My work is here."

'We can't do anything for them'

A Lebanese emergency official -- speaking live on Al-Arabiya TV -- said rescuers lacked the heavy equipment to remove people still trapped under the collapsed building.

"We can't do anything for them under the rubble because we do not have the right equipment," the unidentified official said.

Red Cross worker Sami Yazbak, who was helping to pull bodies from the building, said many of the children who were sleeping inside were handicapped.

IDF spokesman Jacob Dalal told CNN that Hezbollah has used the village to fire rockets into western Galilee, including the coastal town of Nahariya. Dalal said Israel was exercising its right to defend itself with the airstrikes.

Dalal said "there was a specific Hezbollah asset" the IDF was targeting. "We have been hitting rocket launchers from that village for several days," Dalal said.

"Clearly, we did not know the civilians were in the way," he said.

Dalal said Hezbollah turned the village into a war zone.

"Hezbollah has chosen this as their launching ground for their attacks on us intentionally endangering their civilians because they know that something like this is liable to happen," Dalal said.

Qana, 10 miles east of the southern Lebanese coastal city of Tyre, was the location of an attack by Israeli forces 10 years ago in which more than 100 Lebanese refugees were killed. On April 18, 1996, Israeli artillery pounded a U.N. center crowded with civilians. Israel later said the attack was a mistake. At that time, Israel accused Hezbollah militants of hiding behind civilians.

Hezbollah launches dozens of rockets

Also Sunday, Hezbollah militants launched 47 Katyusha rockets into northern Israel, wounding 10 people, Israeli police said.

Israeli Defense Forces said Sunday its ground troops were operating in the border village of Taiyba in southeastern Lebanon, an area Israel said Hezbollah uses to launch rockets.

Troops have killed at least three Hezbollah militants and found stockpiles of rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank missiles, a cannon with shells and a machine gun, IDF said.

IDF did not report any Israeli casualties.

On Saturday, Rice returned to the Middle East to try to negotiate an end to hostilities in the region.

But her task became more difficult Sunday when Lebanon said it would not welcome Rice to Beirut for negotiations unless there was an immediate cease-fire.

"There is no place on this sad morning for any discussion other than an immediate and unconditional cease-fire as well as an international investigation into the Israeli massacres in Lebanon now," Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora told a news conference in Beirut.

After the announcement, Rice cancelled her planned visit.

A U.S. official in Washington called the decision by the Lebanese prime minister "unfortunate."

Rice had dinner with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert late Saturday, according to the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.

Meanwhile, France on Saturday circulated a draft U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities in the Mideast and laying the foundation for the deployment of a multinational force aimed at supporting the Lebanese army in disarming Hezbollah, according to diplomatic sources.

Also Saturday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, in a videotaped message broadcast on the militant group's television station, said the Israeli effort to clear southern Lebanon of Hezbollah is "doomed to failure" and that Rice's return to the region is part of an American plan to impose its will on the Middle East. His videotaped message was broadcast on Hezbollah's television station.

Source: CNN

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