The November 21 assassination of industry minister Pierre Gemayel has provided a focus for US-backed Lebanese politicians to rally their supporters for a possible confrontation with the Hezbollah-led opposition bloc. Gemayel served as the representative of the Christian-based far-right Phalangist party in Prime Minister Fuad Sinioras government.
The US-backed government of Lebanons Sunni Muslim prime minister, Fuad Siniora, has been thrown into crisis after five Shiite cabinet ministers resigned over the November 10-11 weekend after Siniora refused to change the makeup of his government to give more cabinet posts to Hezbollah and its allies.
Israeli cabinet minister Jacob Edery admitted on October 22 that Israel had used white phosphorus, a substance that burns when it comes into contact with air, during its 34-day July-August war on Lebanon.
On October 1, Alexander Ivanko, the chief spokesperson for the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), denied Israels assertions, made earlier that day, that all Israeli troops had been withdrawn from southern Lebanon. He told a Lebanese radio station that Israeli troops were still occupying Ghajar a village with 1800 residents the UN recognised in 2000 as straddling the Lebanon-Syria border.