Israelis launch strikes in Lebanon

The vanishing peace: Months after Netanyahu came to power, the Middle East slides back to confrontation

Six months after Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in as Prime Minister, Israel is rumbling from a prospect of peace towards violent confrontation with its Arab neighbours.

In the north, ambushes, air strikes and exchanges of fire in southern Lebanon, with a steady trickle of casualties on both sides, are settling into a daily routine. Even the assiduous Americans are no longer trying to bring Israel and Syria back to the negotiating table. It is considered an achievement that they have stopped rattling sabres at each other.

On the Palestinian front, Yasser Arafat is increasingly frustrated at what he sees as Mr Netanyahu's retreat from the Oslo accords. The Prime Minister's cheer-leaders have ceased predicting that an agreement to redeploy Israeli troops from Hebron, the last West Bank city still under occupation, is just around the corner.

Relations between Israel and the two Arab states with which it has signed peace treaties - Egypt and Jordan - are becoming cooler by the day. King Hussein of Jordan, who last summer urged Arab leaders to give Mr Netanyahu time to prove his peaceful intentions, is openly disenchanted. Other Arab rulers, in the Gulf and in North Africa, who established trade or quasi- diplomatic ties, are keeping their distance.

For the first time since Israel's ill-starred Operation Grapes of Wrath seven months ago, Katyusha rockets were fired into northern Israel from Lebanon on Friday night. George Habash's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which killed an Israeli mother and son in a West Bank drive- by shooting two days earlier, claimed responsibility. Although no casualties were reported, Israel has lodged a complaint with the international monitoring groups set up after the spring ceasefire .

On Saturday, an Israeli convoy ran into a Hizbollah ambush in the self- proclaimed south Lebanese security zone. The Shia militia wounded two people, including Israel's regional commander, Brigadier-General Eli Amitai. In the ensuing fight, two Hizbollah were killed. A third Lebanese fighter was gunned down by an Israeli mopping-up team yesterday.

Later yesterday Israel retaliated with air strikes on Hizbollah targets north-east of the security zone. The sites, outside populated areas, were said to have been used by Hizbollah either as staging posts for attacks or as ammunition stores.

Late last night, Mr Netanyahu attempted to ease the tension by sending two envoys to meet Mr Arafat and later speaking on the telephone to the Palestinian leader to offer what the Israeli Prime Minister described as "a message of peace".

In an earlier interview with the mass-circulation Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot, Mr Arafat accused Mr Netanyahu of playing with fire by restoring incentives to settle. "Netanyahu knows that this is a time bomb," he said.

"If King Hussein is speaking as he is about Netanyahu," he added, "we have apparently reached the hour of crisis. In the end, it will be impossible to stop the downward flight. After the dead are laid to rest, we shall be standing in the same place."

t Dubai (Reuters) - Iran's supreme leader, ignoring President Bill Clinton's assertion that he has not yet concluded who was responsible for a bomb that killed 19 Americans in Saudi Arabia last June, said the US was preparing an attack on his country. "The American administration ... has decided to strike," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Revolutionary Guards. "They did not say so but evidence indicates this."

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup