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Russia proposes 72-hour humanitarian truce


In an effort to push the parties working on the current United Nations Security Council draft on Lebanon to come to a conclusion, Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin emerged from a meeting at the British mission Thursday evening to announce a Russian-proposed 72-hour humanitarian truce. Churkin told reporters that the draft resolution would be put in ‘blue’ — council-speak for ready to be voted on — “calling for an immediate and full cessation of hostilities of all the parties for 72 hours, calling for proper humanitarian efforts and, quite importantly, calling for extraordinary diplomatic efforts”. 

Lebanese use blogs to vent frustration at war


“I felt besieged, my movement was completely hampered, I enjoyed breaking the siege and having the freedom to write and having space to reach out to people and not feel as isolated,” said Rasha Salti, an independent curator and freelance writer, told Reuters on Thursday. She said her postings appeal to people who want to know more about the everyday aspect of living in a country surrounded by war as opposed to media coverage which generally focuses on the breaking news developments. “The media look for the breaking news obviously. They look for the stories, but when they find a story, they don’t find an ordinary story, one that appeals,” Salti said, whose postings can be seen at electroniclebanon.net. 

Unanimous UN Security Council vote for "cessation of hostilities"


The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously Friday evening to immediately end the month-long hostilities between the Lebanese militia Hezbollah and Israel. Ghanaian Foreign Minister Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who chaired the meeting, said he believed the resolution strengthened the hand of the international community and was “a clear signal to those involved in the hostilities that the world is united, on the way forward, and out of this crisis.” UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told Council members before the vote he was “relieved” but summed up international frustration. 

OCHA: 971,361 displaced in Lebanon, including 16,000 Palestinian refugees


According to the Government of Lebanon (GoL) Higher Relief Committee (HRC) the number of casualties now stands at 1,056 people killed. It estimates that some 971,361 Lebanese have been displaced, inside and outside the country. UNRWA estimates that some 16,000 Palestinian refugees have been displaced by the conflict and an additional 5,500 Lebanese IDPs have moved into Palestinian camps. After drops of warning leaflets on the Burj Barajneh camp in southern Beirut, around a third of the camp population - up to 3,000 people - evacuated the camp yesterday evening. 

Deepening the fault lines


Now, with the Israel-Hizbollah war a stalemate at best and the Israeli deterrence at a historic nadir, Olmert and Bush know that the Israeli public has lost its nerve and its stomach for a unilateral withdrawal from one inch of the West Bank. Twenty years elapsed between the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and the first intifada. Eight years elapsed between the start of the Oslo process and the second intifada. The Gaza withdrawal has only exacerbated the Palestinians’ suffering, and without a diplomatic track to speak of, a third intifada is imminent, one that likely will not be constrained by the sham of Palestinian self-governance. 

As fighting persists in Lebanon, blue helmet wounded when Israeli rounds hit UN post


One day after the Security Council voted unanimously for a cessation of hostilities in Lebanon, fighting continued today and one blue helmet was wounded when Israeli fire hit a United Nations position in the south. In a speech to last night’s Council meeting, Kofi Annan said he would be working with Israel and Lebanon this weekend to establish “the exact date and time at which the cessation of hostilities will come into effect.” He also welcomed the resolution but said the Council should have acted much sooner. One blue helmet was wounded early this morning when two artillery rounds from the Israeli side impacted directly inside a UNIFIL position. 

In search of a true humanity


As Lebanon and Gaza burn and the laws of war are violated with impunity, the terrible erosion of international law represents a critical challenge for the international community. Reflecting on the South African apartheid regime’s efforts to gain supremacy in South Africa and the Southern African region, Jeff Handmaker and Bangani Ngeleza argue it is imperative that we continually raise our voices against Israel’s brazen impunity until a real and lasting ceasefire is in place, war criminals are brought to justice and the Israeli regime is held accountable for decades of repression and regional destabilisation. In doing so, we will surely find a true humanity. 

Put an end to the aggression


For a month now, as the international community has vacillated, Israel has besieged and ravaged Lebanon, creating a humanitarian and environmental disaster and shattering our infrastructure and economy. In the name of the Lebanese people, I again demand an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Israeli troops. The international community has an obligation, under the UN charter, to defend Lebanon’s sovereignty and protect our people under humanitarian law. Given the historic ties with our region, Lebanese look to Europe and Britain to take a lead through the UN in putting an end to this aggression. 

The struggle for balance


It has been much harder to write from here than from Lebanon or Syria. And I realize now that this is what I need to tell you all today. Especially today - because the reasons I haven’t been writing are I think an example of the obstacles we face as loving, caring people in this violent, angry world. I cried all day when I arrived in Jordan - for many reasons - but mainly because it felt so removed, so distant not just geographically, but mentally and emotionally, from the devastation being wreaked on Lebanon. Every day since, I have struggled here with the balance that plagues so many of us: How to participate in both our own daily lives and the world that often seems so distant from them. 

A short-lived celebration


Everybody was clapping in the street half an hour ago. I looked from my window to find out the reason — the electricity was back. I was sitting in my office, sweating, trying to meet my deadline and to keep the mosquitoes away at the same time. The clapping in the street meant I was able to turn the AC on. But then my neighbors were clapping again. What now? Did Brazil win the world cup? No. It was Al Jazeera. It reported that Israel accepted an emergency cease fire. Well, so we’ll have a break tomorrow? This was what I wrote yesterday night, but I didn’t send it because my colleagues and I were waiting for the UN Security Council resolution to be voted on and we stayed in the office till about 3 a.m. The answer to yesterday’s question came today.