Joined: 09 Sep 2006
|Posted: Thu Aug 07, 2008 11:30 am Post subject: Israel warns Hezbollah: We won't tolerate arms smuggling
|Israel warns Hezbollah: We won't tolerate arms smuggling
By Barak Ravid - Haaretz Last update - 08:26 07/08/2008
Israel warned Hezbollah Wednesday it intended to put an end to the arms
smuggling into Lebanon. Israel said the Shi'ite group is using the arms to
bolster its position domestically and as a strategic threat on behalf of
During a meeting Wednesday of the political-security cabinet on Hezbollah,
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister
Tzipi Livni said "Israel will not acquiesce to the continued smuggling of
During the meeting, the ministers were updated on continued Syrian transfers
of advanced military hardware to Hezbollah, including air defense systems,
in an effort to limit the freedom of operations of the Israeli air force in
Lebanon, particularly in reconnaissance and surveillance operations.
The ministers were briefed on intelligence assessments, which hold that
Hezbollah is interested in a confrontation with Israel over the air force
overflights, which will allow the organization to carry on with claims it
serves as a "shield" against Israeli "aggression."
The ministers were also alerted to the possibility Syria may transfer
Hezbollah more sophisticated weaponry than is currently in the Shi'ite
The cabinet agreed that Israel could not reconcile with the transfer of
advanced systems and said the entry of such weapons into Lebanon must be
Intelligence officials stressed Israel's deterrence vis-a-vis Hezbollah and
Syria was very high, and noted there was serious concern in Syria and
Hezbollah that any provocation would result in a severe Israeli response.
In recent weeks, Israel has applied heavy pressure on a number of world
leaders, foreign ministers and UN Secretary General Ban, asking they
intervene to prevent the arms smuggling into Lebanon through Syria.
Intensive diplomatic efforts were made to prevent the transfer of the arms
from Syria to Hezbollah, including "quiet" messages to a number of
governments and to the UN, where Israel made it clear it would not accept
the transfer of anti-aircraft missiles to Hezbollah.
Israel has warned that any such transfers would be perceived in Jerusalem as
"a violation of the strategic balance" in the region.
In response to the Israeli signals, a number of international diplomats
conveyed to Syria warnings against the transfers to Hezbollah.
Israeli sources said that even though the transfers have been blocked at
this stage, this is a temporary gain and in the coming months there is
likely to be another attempt to transfer the weapons to Hezbollah and to
deploy them in Lebanon.
During the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah was found to have advanced
Russian-made anti-tank missiles that Syria had transferred to the Shi'ite
Israel protested to Moscow and delivered physical evidence of the missiles,
and Russia promised to investigate the matter but to date has not admitted
that weapons of its manufacture were transferred to Hezbollah from stocks
sold to Syria.
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