US, France draft U.N. Security Council resolution as three Arabs killed by rocket in northern Israel

Published August 5th, 2006 - 03:28 GMT

A senior U.S. envoy met Saturday with Lebanese officials in Beirut. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Welch met with Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Fouad Saniora to discuss a U.N. Security Council Resolution drafted by France, which aims at finding a solution to the conflict.

 

Earlier, the United States and France agreed on the resolution that calls for an end to the fighting between Israel and Hizbullah, but would allow Israel to defend itself if attacked, officials said.

 

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton and French President Jacques Chirac's office confirmed that agreement had been reached. The full 15-nation Security Council was expected to meet later Saturday to discuss the resolution, and it was likely to be adopted in the next couple of days, Bolton said.

 

An official with knowledge of the document said the draft calls for a "full cessation of violence" between Israel and Hizbullah, but would allow Israel the right to launch strikes if Hizbullah attacks it. "It does not say immediate cessation of violence," the official said.

 

In spite of the stepped up diplomatic effort, the fighting on the ground showed no signs of abating.

 

Israel launched its heaviest bombardment of southern Lebanon since its offensive started, carrying out 250 air raids and firing some 4,000 shells on the region, security sources said.

 

Pre-dawn Israeli airstrikes on Beirut's southern suburbs killed three people and destroyed more buildings in the areas, large sections of which have already been reduced to rubble.

 

Saturday's bombardment of the south lasted for seven hours from dawn with the worst hit region the area around the village of Aitaroun which was hit by 2,000 shells. Security sources said that 15 villages some five kilometers from the border were being systematically destroyed by the bombing with the goal of laying the ground for the border zone.

 

In fighting around the village of Taibe not far from the border, one Israeli soldier was killed and another lightly wounded, an Israeli army spokesman said.

 

In Beirut's southern suburbs, warplanes leveled two buildings in Hay Madi killing the three Sudanese workers who were sleeping in one of them, security official said. Their bodies are still buried under the rubble, they added.

 

A witness said the bombing flattened a 9-story building in Rweiss and partly leveled another in Bir al Abed sparking a huge fire there.

 

In the afternoon, a woman and her two daughters were killed when their home suffered a direct hit in a Katyusha rocket strike on the Israeli village of Arab al-Aramshe, near the northern border. All in all, Hizbullah fired 160 Katyusha rockets across northern Israel on Saturday afternoon, 120 of which landed between 4 P.M. and 5 P.M.

 

An Israeli soldier sustained serious wounds when a rocket hit an army base near the northern border.

 

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