Middle East in crisis

 A new front in the escalating crisis in the Middle East opened up yesterday when Hezbollah militants seized two Israeli soldiers on the Lebanese border with Israel, in an attempt to negotiate the release of Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails. Hezbollah also fired rockets from Lebanon today, killing one Israeli civilian and injuring 29 others. In response, Israel has blockaded Lebanon from the air and sea, and launched a major offensive in the country, killing at least 52 civilians. Christian Aid is extremely concerned about the safety of all those living in the region, be they Israeli, Lebanese, or Palestinian and would urge a restraint in both action and language that could further enflame this troubled part of the world. Christian Aid partner the Middle East Council of Churches has released a statement reflecting the thoughts of many of our partners in Lebanon. It expresses fear of a return to conflict there and the danger that development work, carried out with Christian Aid support, could be undone: 'Once again since yesterday, July 12, morning violence has taken over in Lebanon. The deterioration in the security situation has been very serious in the last 24 hours with Israel authorising a "harsh response" to the capture of two Israeli soldiers in Lebanon. More Israeli tanks are heading towards the Lebanese border since early this morning, and Israel has called up reservists. In South Lebanon, continuous air raids have severely damaged houses, bridges and main roads linking the southern villages and the south to the capital. This morning, Israeli attacks have been heard in the southern suburbs of Beirut, a very populous area. Tens of civilians were killed (of whom one family of ten) according to news today early morning, and the number of wounded is still unknown. The Beirut International Airport is now closed after Israeli air raids early this morning. All three runways are severely damaged. There is fear that electricity and water stations will be targeted next. Days of dread and despair long-lived by the Lebanese during the war seem to have returned. Your prayers and support are needed at this terrible time we are living in.' Source: Christian Aid

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