Israel unleashed more air strikes on Lebanon and Hezbollah fired rockets at Haifa yesterday as a senior UN official demanded a halt to the violence to allow aid to reach desperate civilians.
The Israeli army said it had yet to decide whether to launch a major ground incursion into Lebanon, while Defense Minister Amir Peretz said Israel could accept a temporary international peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, an idea earlier described as premature by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
"Due to the weakness of the Lebanese army, we support the deployment in the south of a multi-national force with broad authority," Peretz told German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Peretz gave no time-frame for deploying the force, but suggested it would be led by NATO. Israel views the existing UN peacekeeping force in south Lebanon as a failure.
Civilians took the brunt of renewed bombardments yesterday in a war that has cost at least 361 lives in Lebanon and 37 in Israel.
Two people were killed and 15 wounded when Hezbollah rockets slammed into apartments and vehicles in Haifa, Israel's third-largest city, which lies 35km south of the border.
More than 1,000 Hezbollah rockets have killed 17 Israeli civilians, prompting between a third to a half of all residents in northern Israel to escape the bombardment, officials said.
Israeli warplanes bombed targets in Beirut and east and south Lebanon, killing at least five civilians and wounding about 80, many of them in the southern port of Tyre.
UN emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland said the violence must stop to enable major aid efforts to get under way.
He said Israeli bombing of the once-crowded Shiite district had breached humanitarian law.
"It is horrific. I did not know it was block after block of houses," he told reporters.
Israel's Army Radio said more troops were expected to move into southern Lebanon yesterday to widen the army's ground operations against Hezbollah close to the frontier.
Lebanon's parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri said yesterday that Hezbollah had agreed to the Lebanese government dealing through a third party with Israel on a prisoner swap involving the two Israeli soldiers captured at the start of the conflict.
"The Lebanese government will lead the exchange through the intermediary of a third party. This has been accepted by Hezbollah," Berri, who is close to the Lebanese militia, told journalists.
In Jerusalem, envoys from three European countries joined intensifying diplomacy yesterday aimed at ending the fighting.
Ministers from France, Germany and Britain were due to hold separate talks with Israeli officials ahead of the arrival of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
‘HERO OF THE ERA’: President Tsai Ing-wen expressed deep sadness at Lee’s passing, and told the government to assist his family with all their needs Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) passed away at 7:24pm yesterday at Taipei Veterans General Hospital. He was 97 years old. The hospital stated the cause of death as septic shock and multiple organ failure. Lee had been hospitalized there since February, when he choked on a mouthful of milk at home. He was later diagnosed with pulmonary infiltrates and aspiration pneumonia. The hospital said that Lee had been treated with antibiotics, but that his health had not improved, as his advanced age and diabetes had inhibited his immune system and led to recurring infections. During his hospitalization, Lee underwent daily kidney dialysis, which removed
‘WEAK POSITIVE’: The man arrived in Taiwan in May and was quarantined for two weeks, Chen Shih-chung said, adding that he might be infected a long time ago The government is considering tightening mask-wearing rules again in light of a potential domestic COVID-19 infection, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases, six of which are imported. The other case involves a Belgian engineer who entered Taiwan on May 3 and remained in quarantine until May 17, said Chen, who heads the CECC. Although the source of infection has yet to be identified, the case could end the nation’s record of not having any domestic cases in the previous 110 days. The Belgian, in his 20s, is a technician
RECEIVING TREATMENT: President Tsai Ing-wen, Vice President William Lai and Premier Su Tseng-chang visited former president Lee Teng-hui yesterday morning Taipei Veterans General Hospital yesterday rebutted speculation that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had died a day earlier, saying that he was weak, but receiving treatment. The hospital said the 97-year-old Lee was not in good condition and needed ongoing care, adding that if there are any changes in his condition, it would make those public. The comments came after rumors emerged online on Tuesday that Lee had died after being hospitalized since early February. Soon after the unsubstantiated rumors emerged, reporters started flocking to the hospital seeking confirmation. Lee was admitted to Taipei Veterans General Hospital on Feb. 8 after choking while drinking
THAI CASE UPDATE: Twenty-nine close contacts of the worker have been tested with two types of tests, including 18 dorm mates, with 28 negative results so far Five imported cases of COVID-19, four from the Philippines and one from Hong Kong, were reported yesterday, bringing the total confirmed cases in Taiwan to 467, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. The four returning from the Philippines were on the same flight, and the local health department has identified 15 people who had direct contact with them — including 10 passengers in the two rows in front or behind them, who have been put under 14-day home isolation, and five crew members, who will practice 14-day self-health management, said Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang