The Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox and New York Timeslead with the Mideast war, where around 200 rockets hit Israel—a record. One person—an Israeli-American man—was killed and about 20 people were wounded. One of the rockets landed inside the West Bank, the farthest distance yet. The Los Angeles Timesleads with an in-house poll in which just 13 percent of respondents said the U.S. should push for an immediate cease-fire while 45 percent said the U.S. should work "toward both sides accepting an international peacekeeping force." (TP isn't sure why those options were presented as mutually exclusive.) Most of the remaining respondents, 38 percent, said the U.S. simply shouldn't get involved. The Washington Postand USA Todaylead with the East Coast's big heat wave. The temperature midnight Wednesday at New York's La Guardia airport was 92 degrees.
Israel continued its ground offensive, with one commander asserting that Israel controlled about a third of the land south of the Litani River. One Israeli soldier was reported killed.
The WP and LAT cite what seems to be the same "Lebanese source" saying that about 200 Hezbollah guerrillas have been killed overall. As for the rockets: "There is a big amount that was destroyed," said the source. "But there is a big amount that is still buried under the ground and difficult to get." Citing Lebanese "intelligence sources," the LAT says Israel has "destroyed much of Hezbollah's infrastructure, including military sites, social service offices and medical facilities."
One longtime Hezbollah expert was unimpressed, telling the NYT, "The command structure of Hezbollah—show me one." He added, "They don't work that way. There are three regional commands that have full autonomy. Their uniforms, their weapons are in a cave somewhere. They do their jobs and then they're home watching television."
The Post's Anthony Shadid hangs out with a few Hezbollah fighters near the border who talked tough and said they're winning.
The NYT says unnamed diplomats from the U.S. and Europe told the paper "they had converged on a two-resolution approach" to end the war. The Times says the first resolution would call for an immediate stop to fighting and would—in the Times' vague phrasing—"lay out a political framework for the future," while the second resolution would authorize an international force.
But the WP says "some key differences remained" and points out that Lebanon's foreign minister says his government might not agree to an international force. The LAT also waxes pessimistic, concluding that "diplomacy continued to founder": France, which is expected to lead whatever intervention force, is skipping a meeting meant to discuss the makeup of the force, saying there's no point in discussing that unless a cease-fire is on the way.
USAT fronts complaints from relief agencies that Israel isn't giving them enough access to southern Lebanon. "We, like most agencies, have supplies and staff backed up," said a rep for a Christian aid group.
Everybody has details on Israel's recent commando raid in the Bekaa Valley. The soldiers attacked what hadbeen a hospital and that, locals told the Post, Hezbollah had turned into a base. About 20 civilians were killed by airstrikes on nearby roads and villages.
Israel said it killed 10 guerrillas in the raid and captured five low-level fighters. Asked whether any big fish were captured, Prime Minister Olmert said, "They are tasty fishes." The NYT files from the area and says Israeli soldiers actually captured the men during a raid on a second town.
The LAT has a front-page piece on an American brigade in Iraq where the commander appears to have issued an order during one operation to "kill all military-age males" who didn't immediately surrender. A few GIs in the unit are now facing charges for murdering some detainees during the operation. As the NYT stuffs, during a hearing yesterday other soldiers testified to the kill orders. Meanwhile, the LAT emphasizes just how gung-ho the unit was. "Commanders encouraged soldiers to compete to rack up 'enemy' kills," recalled one soldier.
The NYT says a dozen Iraqis, mostly children, were killed by two bombs that targeted a neighborhood soccer match in a Shiite area of Baghdad. About 15 bodies were found elsewhere in the capital.
A front-page USAT piece reminds that Congress has set some particularly fuzzy accounting rules, and when more realistic number-crunching is done, the federal deficit is—depending how you count it—twice the amount publicly reported or 10 times so.
The WP goes inside with the military's top uniformed lawyers saying in Senate hearings that the president's preferred procedures for Gitmo tribunals stink. "The United States should be an example to the world," said the Army's top JAG. The Post declares it a "rare, open disagreement with civilian officials." (The mini-mutiny has been going on for a few weeks now—though TP doesn't recall it hitting the front pages.)
The NYT goes inside with another Senate hearing where Attorney General Gonzales pressed legislators to—as the Times politely puts it—"refine" the definition of what constitutes a war crime. Last week, the Post was a bit clearer about the goal of the lobbying. But the Times does include a fine exchange:
The differences between the administration and the Senate were most pronounced when Mr. McCain asked Mr. Gonzales whether statements obtained through "illegal and inhumane treatment" should be admissible.
Mr. Gonzales paused for almost a minute before responding.
"The concern that I would have about such a prohibition is, what does it mean?" he said.