Saudis: Israel must stop bombing

Israel cannot be allowed to carry on bombing Lebanon, Saudi Arabia said on Thursday.

Israel’s nine-day-old bombardment of its northern neighbor has killed more than 300 people but has failed to stop Hizbollah rocket strikes on Israeli soil.

“We cannot let Israel pursue its actions. We cannot tolerate that Israel plays with the lives of citizens, civilians, women, old people and children,” Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz told reporters after a meeting with French President Jacques Chirac.

U.S. ally Saudi Arabia last week criticised Hizbollah and its backer Iran, saying “elements” and “those behind them” were responsible for the Israeli offensive.

The comments provoked heated debate in the Arab world, where there is strong sympathy for resistance to perceived U.S.-Israeli hegemony in the region.

On Monday, Riyadh stepped up its criticism of Lebanese and Palestinian militants, saying their actions had allowed Israel to wage war against their people.

Prince Sultan, who is also heir apparent to the Saudi throne, backed the idea of an international force at the border between Israel and Lebanon.

“That would be the best solution,” he said, speaking through an interpreter. He said Saudi Arabia would continue to send medical equipment and medicine to Lebanon.