The war in Lebanon lasted 34 days, left 1,393 people dead and another 5,350 injured. More than 1,150,000 people were displaced or made homeless. The damage amounts to more than £2.6bn. Exactly one month after it ended, a British Foreign Office minister admits that Tony Blair should have called for a ceasefire. An excerpt from Andy McSmith's article Thursday in The Independent, London:
A Foreign Office minister has conceded that Tony Blair's refusal to call for a ceasefire during 34 days of slaughter in Lebanon may have been a mistake.
The admission by Kim Howells, minister for the Middle East, reflects the growing worries of senior figures in government that Mr Blair's defence of US foreign policy at every turn is damaging his administration at home and abroad.
Mr Howells also conceded that the decision to oppose - with the US - the international demand for an immediate ceasefire was not properly explained to the British public. Mr Blair's isolated stance is seen as a major reason for the revolt that forced him to announce last week that he would be standing down within 12 months.
The Prime Minister's controversial approach to foreign policy - he has been criticised as President Bush's poodle - has begun to unravel of late. Yesterday, he was pleading in vain with Nato members to pledge 2,000 more troops to the troubled mission in Afghanistan, where 40 British servicemen have been killed in recent weeks.
In a further setback yesterday for the Prime Minister, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, the Lord Chancellor, denounced the US prison camp at Guantanamo as "a shocking affront to the principles of democracy." He had previously called it "intolerable and wrong." Mr Blair, though, refused to be drawn on those remarks. He has gone no further than to call the camp an "anomaly," and has steadfastly refused demands to intervene with Mr Bush.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International has accused Hezbollah of war crimes. The group said Hezbollah deliberately targeted civilians with rockets - a "serious violation of international humanitarian law."
Last month Amnesty released a report accusing Israel of war crimes in deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure in Lebanon. Amnesty has urged a United Nations inquiry into violations by both sides.
The latest Amnesty report said that "Hezbollah's rocket attacks on northern Israel amounted to deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian objects, as well as indiscriminate attacks, both war crimes under international law." The report said Hezbollah fired nearly 4,000 rockets into northern Israel, killing 43 civilians and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.