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Qassem: Israel violating 1701
Photo: Reuters
Hezbollah deputy chief says group arming itself
Sheikh Naim Qassem says Shiite organization not violating Resolution 1701 because no weapons are deployed south of Litani River

Hezbollah's deputy secretary-general, Sheikh Naim Qassem, says his organization is arming itself because it fears a forthcoming Israeli attack.

 

In an interview with Saudi daily al-Watan published Wednesday, Qassem said Hezbollah was "assuming that Israel will attack Lebanon one of these days".

  

"Israel's language is militant, and if it does not enter into warfare it is only because it can't do so or its evaluation is negative. That's why we at Hezbollah are taking steps to prepare for a war to break out at any moment," he said.

 

"This preparation means additional arms – in addition to the Lebanese army and the UNIFIL forces."

 

When asked whether the armament violates UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the Second Lebanon War, Qassem responded that "Israel is the one arming itself".

 

"We see Resolution 1701 as obliging us not to deploy weapons south of the Litani River and maintain a peaceful atmosphere without operations. All of this is happening," he said.

 

"We see ourselves as carrying out this resolution daily while Israel violates our airspace on a daily basis and infiltrates the border. It is the one violating Resolution 1701."

 

The government has recently begun issuing warnings intended for Hezbollah, threatening to hold the Lebanese government responsible for any aggression on the part of the organization.

 

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said recently that Hezbollah was still a threat to the home front. "The occurrences in Lebanon are not a normal state – a militia whose members are members of parliament and fill various ministerial roles, and take orders from Syria and Iran," he said.

 

"Israel is not looking to initiate conflict on the northern front, but advises not to try to engage us. We have no interest in conflict, but are prepared in case we are tested."

 

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