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Photo: Uriel Hershko
Halutz. Warning to Lebanese army
Photo: Uriel Hershko
Hizbullah demonstrators. Be warned
Photo: AP
Halutz: If needed we'll fire at Hizbullah supporters
Army chief makes it clear that if terror group members continue to demonstrate and hurl stones at vehicles near fence, IDF will not hesitate to open fire at them. He also tells ministers IDF issued warning to Lebanese army that any use of military equipment, including intelligence means, will constitute violation of ceasefire
Following the discussion on the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip and the ongoing smuggling of weapons from Egypt, the government ministers discussed the issue of the northern front during the weekly cabinet meeting Wednesday.

 

IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Dan Halutz said during the meeting that "the Syrians are continuing the policy of attempting to dissolve the ceasefire resolution which was reached. They have an interest to create instability in Lebanon."

 

The army chief explained that the Syrians were insisting on sticking to their stance while supporting Hizbullah.

 

Referring to the Lebanese government, Halutz said that Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora was under pressure on the part of Hizbullah's supporters – Syria and Iran. According to him, the discussions in Lebanon on the question of Hizbullah's responsibility for the country's situation have become increasingly significant after the war.

 

The army chief reported that during the month of October another three UNIFIL battalions will join the five battalions which are already operating there now, in addition to four Lebanese army brigades.

 

According to Halutz, about 5,000 United Nations soldiers are not deploying in southern Lebanon.

 

As for the issue of the aerial activity over Lebanon, the chief of staff said that the issue has yet to be finalized with UNIFIL and the Lebanese army. At this stage, as was reported several days ago, the Israel Air Force sorties over the area continue, until a different agreement is reached.

 

Contrary to previous estimations, the negotiations for the withdrawal of the last IDF soldiers from Lebanon have not been completed.

 

"We are postponing the transfer of territories until an agreement is reached," Halutz said. "We cannot end this within a day or two."

 

'Next time we'll respond'

The army chief made it clear that the IDF had issued a warning to the Lebanese army that any use of military equipment in the area, including intelligence means, would constitute a violation of the ceasefire resolution.

 

"We conveyed a message that we will operate against any conduct suspected to be a terrorist activity," he said.

 

Addressing the Hizbullah demonstrations and the hurling of stones at IDF vehicles near the border fence, the chief of staff said: "We made it clear that we would use crowd dispersal means against gathering along the fence. There were two such incidents so far, and we made it clear that in the next occasion we will operate."

 

"There are Hizbullah members living in southern Lebanon, and they cannot be expelled from there. They walk around with a yellow shirt and wave flags. In one incident they were dispersed by UN soldiers. After the second incident, we made it clear to UNIFIL and to Lebanon that we will use crowd dispersal means during violent demonstrations such as while hurling stones, from firing in the air to firing at their legs," he said.

 

Referring to the issue of the village of Rajar, which is partly controlled by Israel and partly on the Lebanese side, the army chief said: "This issue is no being discussed. The residents asked to build a fence around the village on its northern part, meaning on Lebanese territory. This is an operational and criminal weak point – we have to make a decision not to leave the situation as it was on the eve of the war on July 11."

 

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who also addressed the issue, said that "a fence must not be built around the Rajar village, not even through a local initiative. The fence will be built if and when a written document is signed."

 

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