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The Independent Online
Who, the Beirut newspaper L'Orient Le Jour wanted to know on its front page this weekend, "committed this especially hateful crime"? If Israeli troops had been clearly to blame for the death of three Lebanese children on Friday, few doubt that it would have prompted an immediate response from Hizbollah guerrillas, and calls from the Lebanese government for the condemnation of Israel at the UN. But the deaths of eight-year- old Tagrid Kateish, and Hamameh Hussein and Mohamed Jawad, both aged 12, were not that simple.

The Hizbollah denied responsibility, claiming that "enemy occupation forces have committed an ugly crime against children in Houla to distort resistance operations." This denial might have been more credible had the guerrillas not announced responsibility for a bomb on the same stretch of roadway the previous day, explosives which, the Hizbollah boasted at the time, wounded a Lebanese "collaborator". Under the terms of the April ceasefire, every truce violation must be referred to an international committee, which does not yet exist.

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