Israel at War 26 July

Rice Pressured to Call for Mideast Truce

ROME (AP) — Almost every nation attending an international conference in Rome is pressing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to call for an immediate end to the fighting on the Israeli-Lebanese border.

But Rice, who was attending the session on Wednesday, stood her ground in two days of diplomacy in Lebanon and Israel and the West Bank. Rather than a quick fix, she has repeatedly said the region needs enduring solutions, and other U.S. officials have raised doubts about an immediate cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah fighters in the south of Lebanon.

Troops engaged in close-quarter fighting with Hezbollah in Bint Jbail

A large number of Israel Defense Forces soldiers were wounded Wednesday in fierce gun battles with Hezbollah in the southern Lebanese town of Bint Jbail.

The IDF was involved in efforts Wednesday to retrieve the casualties, even as the heavy clashes continued.

The troops became involved in close-quarter fighting with Hezbollah guerillas in the early hours of Wednesday, despite taking control of the town a day earlier. The fighting has been going on since.

Report: U.S. plan includes Israeli pullout from Shaba Farms 

The American initiative to end the Lebanon conflict includes an Israeli withdrawal from the Shaba Farms, the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat reported Wednesday.

According to the report, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice included the Shaba Farms to the plan following pressure from high ranking Lebanese officials, headed by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora,

The initiative put forward by Rice during her trip to the region Monday and Tuesday, the Shaba Farms area will be transferred to Lebanon, but the local border will not be set if Syria persists in its opposition to such a move. Following the transfer to Lebanese authority, the Shaba Farms area will be the responsibility of the United Nations.

Olmert orders investigation into deadly IAF strike on UN base

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Wednesday that he has instructed the military to carry out a thorough investigation into an Israel Air Force strike on a UN base in southern Lebanon, in which four peacekeepers were killed.

He told Annan that the results would be shared with him.

Israel said Wednesday that it regrets the “tragic” deaths of the observers and will thoroughly investigate the circumstances that led to their deaths.

Nasrallah: IDF won’t stop rocket fire, conflict moving ‘beyond Haifa’

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Wednesday the conflict with Israel had entered a new phase and that the guerrilla group would not accept any “humiliating” conditions for a ceasefire.

In a televised address, Nasrallah said Israeli incursions into southern Lebanon would not stop Hezbollah rocket fire into northern Israel and that the conflict was moving “beyond Haifa”.

The radical Islamic group head said Israel’s offensive in Lebanon was part of a conspiracy with the U.S. to create a new Middle East.

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