South Lebanon ablaze
Despite daily Israeli air-raids, Lebanese resistance forces were continuing to attack Israeli and puppet troop positions in the occupied south of Lebanon as the Guardian went to press. Two Israeli soldiers have been killed and a number of Israelis and "South Lebanese Army" auxiliaries wounded by the guerrillas. Israeli warplanes are continuing to bomb villages they claim are guerrilla bases. They have destroyed three power stations, cutting off the power to the Lebanese capital for a time. Lebanese Hezbullah (Party of God) guerrillas said in a statement: "the occupation soldiers will remain steady targets for the bombs, rockets and ambushes of our fighters. "The enemy will not be able to impose a new formula in the confrontation field", Hezbullah said, referring to Israel's attempts to deter attacks on its soldiers by hitting the Lebanese economy. Northern Israel is under a state of emergency and the settlers are taking cover in their shelters fearful of Hezbullah rocket attacks while others have left for safety in central Israel. Lebanese Electricity Minister Sleiman Trabousli said after touring the wreckage of the Jumhour power station on the outskirts of Beirut — the third time it has been raided by Israel since 1996 — that all three stations bombed in the midnight assault had been destroyed. "Rationing will be harsh", Traboulsi told a Lebanese public that had suffered through last summer with severe power shortages following an Israeli onslaught in June. It will be a blow to an economy already in recession. But it will do nothing to quell the rising temper amongst the south Lebanese Arabs who want the Israelis out, and want them out now. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak — the man who won last year's election pledging to pull the troops out of Lebanon by this summer and sign peace treaties with Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinians by the end of the year — has reverted to the old Israeli policy of brute force. Tel Aviv admits that no progress has been made on the Syrian or the Palestinian tracks. The Syrian talks are stalled and the Palestinians are still trying to get the Israelis to honour their last interim withdrawal, now months overdue. Barak blames the Syrians but it's the stubborn refusal of his Labour-led government to accept that peace can only come with a total withdrawal from all the occupied territories that has led to the deadlock and the current bloodshed in Lebanon. This was recognised by the European Union's peace envoy, Miguel Angel Moratinos, who told the press that peace in the Middle East is not attainable unless Israel totally withdraws from Syria's Golan Heights. He could have added that this goes for south Lebanon; the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as well. But at the moment the focus is on Lebanon. The Israeli Government is still saying it intends to withdraw from southern Lebanon in the summer — with or without an agreement. The Lebanese resistance have said they will fight on until that day comes.
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