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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 August 2006, 21:29 GMT 22:29 UK
Day-by-day: Lebanon crisis - week three
A day-by-day look at how the conflict involving Israel and Lebanon is unfolding in its third week.

TUESDAY 1 AUGUST

Israeli forces wage fierce clashes with Hezbollah fighters in southern Lebanon as they vow to step up their ground offensive. Israeli troops push towards the Litani River, according to media reports.

Israeli tanks near the border with Lebanon
Three weeks on, Israel is widening the ground offensive
Three Israeli soldiers are killed and 25 slightly injured in clashes in the border village of Ait al-Shaab. The Israelis say they have "hit dozens of Hezbollah gunmen".

Six aid convoys - two from the World Food Programme and four carrying International Committee of the Red Cross supplies - are unable to leave for affected areas in the absence of safe passage guarantees. Israeli PM Ehud Olmert says Israel is "winning" the battle against Hezbollah.

European Union foreign ministers meeting in Brussels call for an "immediate cessation of hostilities" in Lebanon, to be followed by a "sustainable ceasefire".

Senior Iranian cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati calls on Muslim countries to send weapons to Hezbollah to fight Israel.

MONDAY 31 JULY

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says Israel will not declare a ceasefire "in the coming days". He apologises to the Lebanese people "for the pain caused", and says Israel's fight is against Hezbollah, not Lebanon.

Emergency worker carrying body of a child
Many of those killed in the Qana air strike were children
Israel earlier calls a 48-hour partial halt to air strikes in southern Lebanon to allow time for an investigation into Sunday's attack on Qana and for the UN to evacuate civilians from the area.

Despite the suspension, fighting continues across the border - Israeli warplanes strike several targets, killing a Lebanese soldier near the city of Tyre, while Hezbollah shells the Israeli border town of Kiryat Shmona.

On her way back to Washington from Jerusalem, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the US would seek a UN resolution calling for a ceasefire this week.

US President George W Bush says any peace between Israel and Lebanon has to be "long-lasting and sustainable".

SUNDAY 30 JULY

An Israeli air strike kills more than 54 Lebanese civilians, at least 34 of them children, in the southern village of Qana in the bloodiest single attack of the conflict.

The attack on Qana caused protests in Beirut
The attack on Qana caused protests in Beirut

Israel says it regrets the incident - but adds that civilians had been warned to flee the village. It accuses Hezbollah of firing rockets from Qana.

At an emergency session of the UN Security Council, Secretary General Kofi Annan says he is "deeply disturbed" that previous calls for a ceasefire have gone unheeded.

While the US refrains from calling for an immediate ceasefire, France, China, Jordan, Egypt, the European Union, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait do.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora cancels talks with Condoleezza Rice in Beirut.

Ms Rice, attending talks in Jerusalem with Israeli officials to work on conditions for a "sustainable" ceasefire, returns early to Washington.

Meanwhile, Mr Olmert tells Ms Rice that Israel needs 10 to 14 more days to continue its offensive against Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Some 5,000 protesters gather in downtown Beirut after the Qana attack, at one point attacking a UN building and burning American flags. They chant anti-Israeli slogans and declare support for Hezbollah.

But Israel continues its bombardment of Lebanon, killing five people - including two children - in the village of Yaroun. Israeli troops are reported to be involved in clashes with Hezbollah fighters near the town of Khiam.

SATURDAY 29 JULY

Condoleezza Rice returns to the region. She is expected to lobby for a UN Security Council resolution that would lead to an international force being deployed in southern Lebanon.

Without specifying, Ms Rice said that she was about to enter intensive difficult negotiations that would require hard and emotional decisions for both Lebanon and Israel.

An Israeli armoured  convoy enter south Lebanon
Israel could stop fighting before a UN force is deployed
Israeli officials tell the BBC that Israel may be willing to stop fighting as soon as a UN resolution is passed next week - before the arrival of any new peace force - and that they will not insist on Hezbollah disarming first.

In more raids, a Lebanese mother and her five children are killed in a new wave of Israeli air raids in southern Lebanon, Lebanese medics said.

Israeli forces withdraw from the southern Lebanese village of Bint Jbeil - a Hezbollah stronghold - which they had been trying to take for some days and where they sustained their heaviest one-day losses since the campaign began.

An Israeli air strike closes the main border crossing from Lebanon into Syria, witnesses and officials say.

Missiles hit the road between the two states' immigration posts, but apparently on the Lebanese side.

A separate Israeli strike wounds two UN monitors in their observation post, the UN says, days after four were killed.

This follows a warning by the UN that the killing of its observers on Tuesday may deter countries from contributing to a future peacekeeping force.

The UN says children, the elderly and disabled people have been left stranded and supplies are "running out very, very fast" in southern Lebanon and calls for a three-day truce to let aid in.

But an Israeli government spokesman says there is no need for a temporary ceasefire because Israel has opened a humanitarian corridor to and from Lebanon.

In a new television message, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah says more central Israeli cities would be targeted if the Israeli offensive continues.

FRIDAY 28 JULY

President Bush says an international force must be quickly despatched to Lebanon, to bolster the Lebanese army and help distribute humanitarian aid.

Rescue workers remove a body from the rubble in Kfar Joz following an Israeli strike
There were widespread Israeli strikes in southern Lebanon

After talks in Washington with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mr Bush says the US and UK want to achieve a "lasting peace" in the region, but neither leader calls for an immediate ceasefire.

Condoleezza Rice will return to the region on Saturday, Mr Bush says, ahead of a UN Security Council meeting on the crisis next week.

A US state department spokesman dismisses an Israeli suggestion that it has the world's authorisation to continue bombing Lebanon as "outrageous", insisting the US is doing all it can to bring an end to the conflict.

The UN calls for a 72-hour truce in the conflict zone to allow humanitarian aid in and to get casualties out.

Israel carries out dozens of fresh strikes on Lebanon. Lebanese officials say at least 12 people are killed.

Hezbollah fires a barrage of more than 100 rockets into northern Israel. It says it has made its deepest strike into the country so far with a new long-range rocket called the Khaibar-1. Israeli police confirm an attack by a previously unknown rocket near the town of Afula.

Two mortar rounds strike a convoy of vehicles carrying civilians escaping the violence in southern Lebanon, wounding two people travelling in a German TV car. The Israeli Defence Forces say they do not believe the mortars were theirs.

The UN announces plans to relocate unarmed observers from their post along the Israeli border to positions manned by Unifil, the UN peacekeeping force.

THURSDAY 27 JULY

Israel says the decision in Rome not to call for an immediate ceasefire indicates backing from world powers for the offensive to continue.

The bombed UN post
The attack on the UN post caused an international outcry

The Israeli security cabinet decides to call up more military reserves to refresh troops fighting in southern Lebanon but rules out widening the military offensive.

Israel launches further air and artillery attacks on suspected Hezbollah targets, while fighting continues around the Hezbollah stronghold of Bint Jbeil in southern Lebanon.

More rockets are fired into northern Israel by Hezbollah militants despite warnings from the Israeli army that any village from which rockets are launched will be totally destroyed.

Al-Qaeda deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri warns al-Qaeda will respond to attacks on Muslims in Lebanon and Gaza.

WEDNESDAY 26 JULY

EU and Arab states, together with the US and Russia, agree at talks in Rome to work towards a ceasefire with "utmost urgency", but stop short of calling for an immediate truce.

A joint statement backs the idea of an international force with a UN mandate. It says a ceasefire must be "lasting and sustainable", reflecting the US position.

Images from the Middle East as the conflict enters a third week

An initial UN report into the deaths of four UN observers says the UN repeatedly urged Israel to stop firing in the area around its post before a rocket landed on the site. Israel describes the event as a "tragic mistake".

Nine Israeli soldiers are killed and 22 injured in fierce fighting around the town of Bint Jbeil, a strategically located Hezbollah stronghold in southern Lebanon. It is the biggest Israeli loss of life since the conflict began. Another dies in the nearby village of Maroun al-Ras.

In Gaza, at least 23 people are killed in Israeli air strikes, medical sources say, and Israeli tanks move back into the north of the Gaza Strip.

[Note: The number of people killed in the Israeli bombing of Qana was later revised. The Washington based human rights group Human Rights Watch investigated the incident and issued a report on 3 August saying that 28 people were known to have died, while 13 people were missing.]




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