Israeli and Lebanese officials clashed at a Security Council meeting Monday as Lebanon's acting foreign minister, Tareq Mitri, asked for an international investigation into the deadly air strike on the southern town of Qana, where 54 people, including many children, were killed Sunday.
Mitri, who is also Lebanon's Minister of Culture, repeated Lebanon's demand for an immediate ceasefire in the battle between Israel and Hezbollah forces. He described a "pattern of behavior" in Israel's actions against Lebanon and asked that an international probe of the civilian deaths be set in motion. "This is a deliberate massacre against civilians. The civilians in Qana had been given the choice of either staying in the shelter or leave because they were asked to leave. How could they leave when all the roads are bombarded? There have been many civilians that were asked to flee their villages and as they were, they were bombarded. So, they were given a choice between being bombarded while on a truck or in a shelter," he said.
Israel accuses Hezbollah of using southern Lebanon to launch rockets into northern Israel. Israel says it did not know that civilians had taken shelter in the building. But the acting foreign minster told the Security Council the Lebanese people are tired of hearing that mistakes are made in war situations.
Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Dan Gillerman, said Israel has repeatedly been forced to take action against forces operating in Lebanon. He said Lebanon must take some responsibility for losing control of its own fate. "Violence is there because you have allowed violence to take you over. You have allowed a peaceful, fun-loving, entrepreneurial, cultural country to become a hotbed of terrorism and a cesspool of hatred. When those children are incited the way they are, do not expect them to grow up any other way. These children do not need Qana in order to hate us. I believe that no baby is born wanting to be a suicide bomber and no mother gives birth to a child wanting him to become a shaheed (suicide bomber), but if that is the kind of culture they grow up in, indeed, violence breeds violence," he said.
Mitri said Lebanon has approved a plan to end the conflict, which calls for an increase in international troops in southern Lebanon and the release of Israeli and Lebanese prisoners. But he said a political solution cannot be negotiated without a ceasefire.