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Mon, Jul 31, 2006

Israeli Air Strikes Hit Refugee Camp

51 Civilians Reported Dead In Latest Bombing

There are renewed calls for an immediate halt to fighting between Israeli forces and Hezbollah guerillas in Lebanon... after an Israeli air strike Sunday hit a building sheltering refugees in the Northern town of Qana.

The DPA news service reports 51 Lebanese civilians were killed in the bombing, including 27 children. Another 17 persons were reportedly wounded in the raid, which came on the 19th day of fighting between Hezbollah forces camped out near Beirut and Israeli military units.

"I can say this is a massacre. Most of the people here have fled other areas to hide from the Israeli bombardment from other areas in southern Lebanon," a Red cross volunteer at the scene said.

The latest bombing ignited tensions even more in the area, with many Lebanese -- most Hezbollah followers -- took to the streets shouting "Death to Israel, death to America," during a demonstration in front the government palace.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was on an emergency trip to the region in an attempt to broker a deal between the two sides, was forced to cancel a scheduled visit to Beirut in the wake of the attack.

Despite the reports of civilian casualties, Israel declined to comment on the strike, stating only that several Hezbollah rocket attacks had been launched from the area.

Sunday's bombing was not the first time Israeli forces have struck Qana. During the 1996 "Grapes of Wrath" operation against Hezbollah forces, Israeli artillery hit the same village, killing 109 people.

That bombing, 10 years ago, eventually forced Israel to halt its operation.



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