Annan Criticizes Israel; Israelis Furious

August 30, 2006 5:33 a.m. EST

Ryan R. Jones - All Headline News Middle East Correspondent

Jerusalem, Israel (AHN) - Shortly after arriving in Israel Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan blamed the Jewish state for the lion's share of violations against a tenuous ceasefire between itself and Lebanon's Hezbollah terrorist militia.

Annan offered the criticism during a meeting with Defense Minister Amir Peretz. He said that some 100 complaints of truce violations, most of them violations of airspace, had been filed against Israel since August 14, compared to only four against Hezbollah.

Annan also pressed the Israeli to immediately lift a sea and air military blockade of Lebanon aimed at denying Hezbollah shipments of arms from Iran and Syria. In reply, Peretz stressed that Israel could not logically do so until international peacekeepers tasked with enforcing an arms embargo on Hezbollah were in place. Annan said he hoped some 5,000 European peacekeepers would be deployed to the region by week's end.

Readers of Ynet, the online version of Israel's largest daily newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, responded furiously to the secretary-general's remarks.

A reader from southern Israel identified as "Concerned" wrote, "We must maintain the blockade on Lebanon until they return our soldiers." Another reader named Itzik concurred, "Kofi, first get our soldiers back, then we can talk."

Others took a harsher tone, such as "A Proud Israeli" from northern Tel Aviv, who accused Annan of being a "self-righteous bleeding heart who understands nothing and is trying to educate and reprimand someone who doesn't need" to be educated or reprimanded.

Dan said Annan "has no integrity. ...He doesn't prevent the abduction of (IDF) soldiers, under his very nose (Hezbollah) built a network of underground bunkers, but the secretary-general doesn't know and doesn't hear, he only see Israeli violations." He noted that Israel will have the same "problem with the (new) international force."

Eran from central Israel added that Annan had a lot of "nerve to come and make such statements when the UN fails to honor its own mandates ... maybe he should take a look at how close the (Hezbollah) bunker (Israel destroyed on Sunday) was to a UN observer post."

"Northerner" reminded his fellow Israelis of the speech former President Haim Herzog had to make before the UN General Assembly in defense of Israel. "This is the UN and it remains anti-Zionist. We must not trust them."

Prior to his meeting with Peretz, Annan met with the families of IDF reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, who were abducted by Hezbollah on July 12, sparking the recent war in Lebanon. The families expressed disappointment following the meeting, saying that Annan had offered them no new information.

Annan was scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzippi Livni Wednesday, before traveling to Ramallah for talks with PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.