Lebanon-Israel border: Tense calm
Photo: AFP

Report: Israel reassures Lebanon before IDF exercises

Just days after defense minister's threat to Beirut, Israel clarifies that troop deployment along northern border is for exercise, not incursion into Lebanon. Arab paper reports US warns Beirut: If Hezbollah obtains STA missiles, may not be able to prevent Israeli response

London-based newspaper Asharq Alawsat reported Friday that Israel has assured Lebanon that increased IDF troops and army exercises along the Lebanese border are intended as preparation for military maneuvers, and not as preparation for any incursions into Lebanese territory.


The newspaper said that the message was sent via the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in an attempt to prevent increased tension between the two states, which has been running high in recent months due to a number of incidents in southern Lebanon, an increase in Hezbollah activity along the border and reports of its rearmament.


In addition, according to the London paper, US President Barak Obama said to his Lebanese counterpart Michel Suleiman that if Hezbollah succeeds in obtaining surface-to-air missiles, Israel may feel compelled to deploy its military, which will be hard for the US to prevent.


The Lebanese daily an-Nahar reported that US National Security Advisor James Jones will arrive Friday in Beirut, where he is due to meet senior political figures including President Suleiman. The newspaper said that the US visitor and his hosts will discuss the regional situation and the relations between the two states including US military aid to Lebanon.


Barak to Lebanon: You'll be responsible for deterioration

The message to Lebanon comes just days after the explicit threat from Defense Minister Ehud Barak to Beirut during his recent tour of Israel's northern border region.


"We know Hezbollah is growing stronger with Syria's help, and occasionally with Iran's assistance," Barak said during a visit to an IDF position overlooking Lebanese villages. "We have said before, and we'll say again today, that should the (security) situation deteriorate, we'll hold the Lebanese government and all those who help Hezbollah responsible."


Barak noted that the IDF is well deployed along the border, but that the calm enjoyed in recent years could be broken without warning. "We are here on the northern border, facing Hezbollah positions. I see that the IDF is very well prepared. The quiet here benefits everyone, and we strongly suggest that the other side refrain from disturbing this quiet, which is based, first of all, on deterrence."


פרסום ראשון: 01.15.10, 12:08
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