War Wages On in the Middle East

Massive evacuations are underway in the Middle East where many foreigners, including thousands of Americans, are trying to escape the violence. They come as Israel for the first time indicates it will stop its military offensive in Lebanon if Hezbollah meets certain demands.

But with 25,000 U.S. citizens in the country, it will take awhile. Some will hunker down; others are leaving on their own, but the military estimates it may have to evacuate 5,000 by air and by sea.

Sean McCormick, State Department spokesperson, said, "We want to have a safe, orderly, timely method of evacuation of everyone who wants to leave."

Israeli missiles pounded Lebanon from north to south on Monday in a massive retaliation for the barrage of hundreds of Hezbollah rockets. The deadly fighting kicked off last week after Hezbollah militants launched a cross-border raid and kidnapped two Israeli soldiers.

In the first sign of progress in this fierce conflict, Israeli officials said they would agree to halt fighting if their soldiers are returned safely and if Hezbollah militant fighters withdraw from the Lebanese/Israeli border.

In his first address since the battle began, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel didn't start the fight with Lebanon or the ongoing assault in the Gaza strip where Israeli forces believe Hamas is holding a third Israeli soldier.

While diplomacy seems to be gaining some ground here, finding middle ground may be what it takes to end this conflict. With neighboring Iran and Syria backing both militant groups, Israel will have to find some way to return to a tenuous peace with its lifelong enemies.


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