Israel has rejected international criticism over its air strike on the Lebanese town of Qana. More than 60 people died in the attack. Most of them were women and children. That figure looks sure to rise as rescue workers continue to pull bodies from the rubble.
Israel has responded by saying that Qana, a town just east of the port city of Tyre, was being used by Hizbollah to fire rockets into Israeli territory. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said all civilians had been warned to leave the area before the bombardment.
The strike has brought widespread criticism from across the international community. The EU’s Javier Solana has said that ‘nothing can justify’ the attack on civilians. British foreign secretary Margeret Beckett has called the strike ‘appalling’, while Syria has denounced it as terrorism. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said she’s ‘deeply saddened by the loss of life’. Her diplomatic trip to Beirut has been cancelled.
The bombing of Qana brings to more than 700 the estimated number of casualties in Lebanon since the conflict began 18 days ago. Most of those are civilians. 10 years ago, another Israeli attack on Qana as part of the ‘Grapes of Wrath’ offensive, left 105 people dead.