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German Foreign Minister in Israel

In a new round of diplomacy aimed at ending the fighting in the Middle East, envoys from three European countries are holding talks in Israel. Among them is German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier who has already met with high-ranking Israeli officials and is due to hold talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas before returning to Germany.

Defense Minister Peretz shaking hands with German
Foreign Minister Steinmeier in Jerusalem.

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy and Britain’s Middle East Minister Kim Howell are also meeting Israeli officials.

During a stop in Beirut Howell said the British government is starting to question Israel’s tactics.

US Secretary of State Condeleesa Rice is travelling to the region, expecting to join her British, French and German counterparts later in the day.

More than 100 Palestinians have been killed

GAZA CITY (AFP) July 21 — Israel has been waging a similar offensive against the Gaza Strip since the capture of a soldier in June by Palestinian militants including the armed wing of the governing Hamas movement. More than 100 Palestinians have been killed.

Israel Supports an International Force under NATO

Israel said it supported the deployment of an international force as part of the eventual solution to the crisis.

It has previously said that it was “too early” to consider such a force, which would be in addition to the UN peackeeping force that has been monitoring the volatile border for 28 years.

“Israel sees the possibility of deploying a multinational force (in south Lebanon) with a strong mandate. The force would possibly be a NATO force,” Defense Minister Amir Peretz told reporters after meeting Germany’s foreign minister.

Crises like these often inflame anti-
American and anti-Israeli feeling

Mid-East faces uncertain future

A German Minister’s Popular Dissent on Lebanon

German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul responsible for development aid has been a lone voice calling for an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon. She deserves respect and could soon find top-level sympathizers, says DW’s Peter Stützle.

Wieczorek-Zeul also served as development minister under the previous government

Germany’s minister views the Israeli reaction to Hezbollah’s attacks as completely inappropriate — and demands an immediate end to the bombings. She knows from opinion polls that at least three quarters of the German population agree with her. The three opposition parties — the free-market liberal FDP, the Greens and the Left Party — have also criticized the Israeli action, albeit in different ways.

UN appalled by Beirut devastation

Mr Egeland, the UN’s emergency relief chief, described the destruction as “horrific” as he toured the city. He has condemned the devastation caused by Israeli air strikes in Beirut, saying it is a violation of humanitarian law.

Mr Egeland arrived hours after another Israeli strike on Beirut. Israel also hit Sidon, a port city in the south crammed with refugees, for the first time.

  «« click for a panorama view
BBC NEWS: destruction of Beirut in pictures

‘Block after block’

Mr Egeland arrived in southern Beirut on Sunday just hours after Israeli strikes on the ‘Hezbollah stronghold’, and the ruins of high-rise apartment blocks were still smouldering. A visibly moved Mr Egeland expressed shock that “block after block” of buildings had been levelled.

Mr Egeland appealed for both sides to put a halt to attacks. He said UN supplies of humanitarian aid would begin to arrive in the next few days. “But we need safe access,” he said. “So far Israel is not giving us access.”

Israel has said it will lift its blockade on Beirut’s port to allow aid through, but correspondents point out that roads, bridges and trucks have all been targeted by the Israeli air force, making it extremely difficult for aid supplies to reach regions where they are most needed.

Israeli warplanes hit minibus, killing 3
Hezbollah rockets kill 2 in Israel

The stricken minibus was carrying 16 people fleeing the village of Tairi, working their way through the mountains for the southern port city of Tyre. A missile hit the bus near the village of Yaatar, killing three and wounding the rest, security officials said. The wounded were taken to hospitals in Tyre.

"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."

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