The Washington Post,Wall Street Journal’s world-wide newsbox, and Los Angeles Timesall lead with the Israeli Cabinet calling up between 15,000 and 30,000 reservists but for now rejecting the military’s apparent recommendation for a wider ground offensive. “We are recruiting reserve troops so that, if need be, we will be able to exercise the necessary force,” said Israel’s defense minister. The New York Times, for the first time,goes inside with its war update. Instead, the paper’s lead points out that Hezbollah and its chief, Hassan Nasrallah, have become the toast of the Mideast. Meanwhile, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, which initially had criticized Hezbollah, are now at least publicly “scrambling to distance themselves from Washington.” As the Times notes, al-Qaida is also trying to ride the wave—and get some airtime—with a new video from No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri. USA Todayleads with home-builders doling out incentives as sales have slipped.
Another roughly 100 rockets hit Israel again yesterday, though there were no serious injuries. Israel also continued airstrikes in Lebanon, with a few people reported killed, including a driver from one aid convoy and a police officer. Most of the strikes were concentrated near the southern border.
In one cut-off town in the south, the Post says the Red Cross found bodies in the street and in destroyed buildings. The relief workers also said they found 700 people, including 300 children, hiding in the town’s mosque.
The LAT visits one of the U.N. bases in southern Lebanon, where the paper’s reporter says officials told her Hezbollah “systematically set up rocket launches alongside U.N. bases.” That jibes with a report from a Canadian paper, which has an e-mail from one of the U.N. observers killed who wrote a few days ago that Israel was firing at Hezbollah positions right next to the base. *The Christian Science Monitor flags a poll showing Lebanese support for Hezbollah on the rise. Even among Christians, support clocked in at 80 percent. The number who feel the U.S. supports Lebanon was just 8 percent, down from 38 percent in January. The survey was done by the Beirut Center for Research and Information.
There were also small clashes in Gaza. Four Palestinians were killed, including an elderly woman.
The WP off-leads the administration pushing legislation that would shield U.S. personnel from being prosecuted for violations of the War Crimes Act. The idea is to protect interrogators and others who have carried out what the CIA has politely termed “enhanced interrogation techniques.” The move comes after the Supreme Court’s recent decision that—contra the administration’s contention—even terror suspects have a right not to be abused. For what it’s worth: The administration has been talking since 2002 about minimizing exposure to the War Crimes Act.
Only the WP and LAT have staffed stories focusing on the about 30 Iraqis killed by “a flurry of rockets and car bombs” in what had long been a “relatively peaceful” Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad. The Post says the blasts “collapsed three-story buildings and trapped residents under piles of rubble.” Nineteen bodies showing signs of torture were found elsewhere in the capital.
A front-page LAT piece emphasizes that the plan to add a few thousand GIs to Baghdad makes any large drawdown of troops this year unlikely. The Post concluded as much a few days ago after the president unveiled the plan.
The NYT goes inside with a sergeant telling investigators that soldiers in his unit did indeed murder three Iraqi detainees in May. Lawyers for the soldiers said the GIs were given orders on the mission to “kill all military-age men” they encountered. Meanwhile, the colonel who gave the purported order has reportedly refused to testify. As the Times notes, “It is very rare for any commanding officer to refuse to testify.”
The NYT off-leads says the construction of a children’s hospital in Basra that has been celebrated by Laura Bush is a year behind schedule, plagued by cost overruns, and now the U.S. has dropped the main contractor for the job.
Most of the papers front initial tests showing that Floyd Landis, the little-heralded American winner of the Tour de France, had abnormally high amounts of testosterone. Landis made his big move—climbing from 11th to third—the same day he was tested. But more tests are coming, and it’s possible the first one was a false positive.
Doping via testosterone is notoriously difficult to spot since men naturally have some level of the hormone. “It’s kind of tragic this even got out,” said one testing expert.
The Post says inside that House and Senate leaders have agreed on “vastly scaled-back versions” of earlier congressional ethics proposals. Said the president of the lobbyists’ lobby, “I’m happy where things are right now.”
*Correction, July 28:This article cited an U.N. observer’s e-mail that Hezbollah was firing next to a U.N. base and, according to the e-mail, using it as a “shield.” In fact, the e-mail did not specifically refer to Hezbollah using the base a “shield.” A former U.N. commander who read the e-mail made the reference. Click here to return to the corrected sentence.