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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Saudi blames Hizbollah, Hamas for Israel attacks

RIYADH (Reuters) - U.S. ally Saudi Arabia on Monday stepped up its criticism of Lebanese and Palestinian militants, saying their actions had allowed Israel to wage war against their people.

"Some elements and groups have got loose and slipped into taking decisions on their own that Israel has exploited to wage a ferocious war against Lebanon and to imprison the entire Palestinian people," a cabinet statement said.

"Saudi Arabia stands together with the legitimate and reasonable-minded national forces in Lebanon and occupied Palestine to combat these dangers to the Arab and Muslim nation," it added.

Saudi Arabia last week criticized Hizbollah and its backer
Iran saying "elements" in Lebanon and "those behind them" were responsible for an Israeli offensive on its northern neighbor to stop strikes by the Shi'ite guerrilla group.

The unusually frank comments have provoked heated debate in the Arab world, where sympathy toward resistance to perceived U.S.-Israeli hegemony in the region runs high.

Israel bombarded Lebanon for a sixth day on Monday and dismissed as premature a U.N. proposal for an international peacekeeping force to help end the worst fighting across the Israeli-Lebanese border in more than 20 years.

Israel's campaign has killed at least 181 people, mostly civilians, and wounded more than 500. It has also destroyed much of Lebanon's civilian infrastructure.

Twenty-four Israelis have been killed in the fighting, including 12 civilians hit in rocket attacks.

The Saudi statement on Monday included an oblique criticism of Washington for blocking a
U.N. Security Council resolution calling on Israel to end a simultaneous offensive in the Palestinian territory of Gaza.

"Some countries' total support for Israeli policies has hindered taking a decision," it said.
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