France and Russia criticise offensive
France’s foreign minister condemned Israel’s attacks on Lebanon as “a disproportionate act of war,” and said he supported Beirut’s calls for UN Security Council intervention.
Philippe Douste-Blazy told France’s Europe-1 radio on Thursday that France was calling for “the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Lebanon to be preserved.”
The Israeli air campaign, its heaviest against Lebanon in 24 years, is a “disproportionate act of war with negative consequences” which could “plunge Lebanon back into the worst years of the war with the flight of thousands of Lebanese who … were in the process of rebuilding their country,” he said.
“Today, we support the Lebanese request that the UN Security Council take up the issue as soon as possible,” he said, echoing calls by Lebanon’s cabinet.
Russia criticised Israel’s “disproportionate use of force” against Lebanon and the Palestinian territories on Thursday, saying that civilians were being made to suffer.
“One cannot justify the continued destruction by Israel of the civilian infrastructure in Lebanon and in Palestinian territory, involving the disproportionate use of force in which the civilian population suffers,” the foreign ministry said in a statement that also condemned terrorism.
The ministry described the situation as “extremely worrying” and Israel’s bombing of Beirut’s international airport as “a dangerous step on the road to military escalation.”
“We firmly reaffirm support for Lebanon’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the statement said.
“All sides involved in the current events should take rapid measures to stop the region sliding into open conflict.”
Earlier, a Russian foreign ministry official said that the Middle East “quartet” – the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States – were consulting over the Israel-Lebanon conflict.
The quartet is “holding active consultations in order to work out recommendations for resolving the situation,” the ministry’s representative for the region, Sergei Yakovlev, was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying.
“The main thing is not to allow the conflict to develop into all-out war between Lebanon and Israel.”
Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers during a cross-border raid on Wednesday, triggering an Israeli assault with warplanes, tanks and gunboats as Israeli troops crossed the frontier to hunt for the captives.
Air-strikes overnight to Thursday blasted the country’s only international airport and the Hezbollah TV station.