The Guardian February 16, 2000

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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