Hizbollah offers a ceasefire: Hopes of border peace flickered but died as Israel rejected a deal

HOPES of a ceasefire in south Lebanon were raised briefly again yesterday, when Hizbollah, the pro-Iranian militants, offered to stop attacking Israeli targets if Israel halted its bombardment.

But a special session of the Israeli cabinet swiftly rejected the terms of the offer, insisting, once again, that there could be no let- up in the Israeli action until Hizbollah first ceased its rocket fire. Throughout the past six days, Israeli shelling of towns and villages in Lebanon has continued unabated, Lebanese civilians have continued to flee north to the security of Beirut, and Hizbollah has continued to fire Katyusha rockets at Israel.

As Arab states began a meeting in Damascus yesterday to press Israel for an immediate ceasefire, Israeli officials accepted that the offer from Hizbollah, the first suggestion that the group might consider a ceasefire deal, could be a 'first step' - an indication that it is beginning to 'get the message'.

The Hizbollah offer, put by Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, its secretary-general in Beirut, followed moves by Israel to persuade the US to broker a ceasefire, which have so far come to nothing. However, the Israeli cabinet unanimously decided that negotiations could only be carried out with the Lebanese government. 'The address for such talks is not Hizbollah,' said a government spokesman, Uri Dromi. Israel also demands that any ceasefire should be underpinned with a Syrian and Lebanese guarantee to end support for Hizbollah in future.

Sheikh Nasrallah's statement said that halting rocket attacks on settlements in 'occupied northern Palestine' (northern Israel) could not be achieved without an end to Israel's assault on Lebanese territory. The Islamic Resistance, Hizbollah's military wing, had been unable to stand by and watch Israeli aircraft, rockets and artillery pounding Lebanese civilians in the south, he said. 'That is why after villagers and civilians were targeted by the enemy, it has launched rockets at settlements in the occupied northern Palestine.'

Security sources said that at least four people were killed and 30 wounded in south Lebanon yesterday, bringing the toll to more than 126 people dead - mainly civilians - and 518 wounded in the past six days.

Despite international condemnation, Yitzhak Rabin, the Prime Minister, is finding continued support at home. According to a poll for the daily, Yediot Ahronot, 93 per cent of Israelis support what the government calls 'Operation Accountability' and only 7 per cent are opposed. The policy of deliberately targeting civilians has met with little concern: 62 per cent of Israelis believe the operation has been carried out with the right degree of intensity.

LONDON - Concern has been expressed by her family for the safety of an English nurse, Karen Martin, her Palestinian doctor husband, Ahmed, and their son, Tarek, aged one, who have been caught up in the bombardment of Tyre where they went on holiday a fortnight ago.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine