Three Hizbullah men killed by Israel as Bush hopes France to send more troops
Israeli forces shot dead three Hizbullah fighters in southern Lebanon on Monday evening, Israeli sources reported. "A force identified armed gunmen coming toward them in a threatening way," an Israeli military spokesman said, according to Haaretz. "The soldiers fired at them and identified three hits."
The incident took place some four kilometers inside Lebanon's territories.
Meanwhile, Israel on Monday handed over to UN peacekeepers five Lebanese civilians who were captured during an Israeli commando raid late on August 1 in Baalbek, according to a peacekeeping official.
In another development, US President George W. Bush on Monday called for quick deployment of an international force to help uphold the fragile cease-fire in Lebanon. "The need is urgent," Bush said.
"Sometimes I'm frustrated. Rarely surprised. Wars are not a time of joy," the president said at a White House news conference. "These are challenging times, and difficult times." The US leader conceded that the war had become a major issue in this year's midterm congressional elections.
Bush opened his news conference with a statement about humanitarian aid and an international peacekeeping force for southern Lebanon after 34 days of fighting. "The international community must now designate the leadership of this new international force, give it robust rules of engagement and deploy it as quickly as possible to secure the peace," Bush said.
He said the international force would help keep Hizbullah from acting as a "state within a state." "The United States will do our part," Bush said. He said it was "the most effective contribution we can make at this time."
Bush said he hoped that France would send more troops to Lebanon. So far France has committed only an additional 200 troops.
Bush also said his administration was pledging an additional $230 million to help the Lebanese rebuild their homes and return to their towns and communities.