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Suspend hostilities and take steps for peace
Akahata editorial (excerpts)
Hostilities between Israel and Palestinian Hamas militants and between Israel and Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah militants are escalating and increasing the numbers of victims.
The urgent task now is to stop all military actions in order to prevent more people from being killed and to get rid of the danger of the violence escalating into a full-fledged war. This needs to be followed by moves aimed at conducting peace negotiations toward a complete settlement of the Middle East conflict that has continued for more than half a century. The United Nations and the international community are urgently requested to play a positive role in this effort.
Cooperation among nations required
The Israeli armed forces launched a large scale military offensive in retaliation for attacks by Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim armed group in Lebanon, and the abduction of Israeli soldiers on July 12, by killing more than 300 Lebanese people including children and civilians.
In Lebanon, with a population of 3 million, 100,000 people have already lost their homes, and half a million have become refugees. Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has called for an immediate ceasefire and urgent humanitarian assistance.
As stated by the European Union in its presidency statement, Israel's military actions are nothing but a "disproportionate use of force" and "contrary to international humanitarian law" which "can only aggravate the vicious circle of violence and retribution." The actions are inexcusable, reneging on international law including the Geneva Convention banning the killing and injuring of civilians.
It is also reported that more than 30 Israelis were killed as a result of Hezbollah's rocket attacks. Hezbollah, which participates in the Lebanese government, crossed the border to attack Israel and abduct Israeli soldiers. These irresponsible provocative actions cannot be justified. Hezbollah must release abductees and stop all its provocations.
Military actions that rob people of both sides of their lives and safety and threaten peace in the Middle East must be stopped without delay. The international community is urgently required to achieve this by making concerted efforts.
Israel has also invaded Gaza and the West Bank since June 27, killing more than 110 Palestinians. Under the situation that Israel went to war simultaneously on two fronts, world public opinion is urging Israel's "self-restraint".
It is important for the international community to arrive at a consensus and to increase efforts to effectively reach out to the parties concerned. In order to achieve a ceasefire leading to peace through efforts of countries and international organizations including United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan's proposal to dispatch international troops, it is extremely important to enlist the cooperation of countries based on the U.N. Charter and international law.
The United States exercised its veto at the U.N. Security Council on July 13 against a draft resolution for a ceasefire in Gaza. The United States defends the excessive military actions of Israel on the grounds of its "right to self-defense," running counter to efforts for reaching an international agreement that amounts to rejecting settlement of a major international conflict.
In order to make a breakthrough, it is indispensable for Israel to stop its military offensive and to withdraw, and for the Lebanese and Palestinian armed groups to release the abducted Israeli soldiers.
Peace in the Middle East
Provocative military actions must be replaced by actions based on justice and reason, which is the only way to establish agreements among the international community.
Countries concerned must make diplomatic efforts aimed at peace in the Middle East based on justice and reason that includes the withdrawal of Israel from occupied territories, the Palestinian people's exercise of their right to national self-determination and the establishment of their own state, co-existence of Israel and Palestine, and the securing of Lebanese sovereignty. Escalating military actions will only make this more difficult.
- Akahata, July 22, 2006
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