Israel says it will act again as Lebanon sees ceasefire violations

Deutsche Presse Agentur
Published: Sunday August 20, 2006

Beirut/Tel Aviv - The Lebanese government Sunday warned against anyone violating the UN-brokered ceasefire from within Lebanon, but Israel said it would act again as it had done in a raid against Hezbollah on Saturday if necessary.

Lebanese Defence Minister Elias Murr warned that the army would charge with treason anyone who fired rockets on Israel in violation of a fragile ceasefire, but said Hezbollah was committed to the deal.

'Any violation ... any rocket that would give Israel a justification (to hit Lebanon) will be treated harshly,' Murr told a press conference.

'It will be considered as direct collaboration with the Israeli enemy,' he said, adding that those responsible 'will be tried and referred to a military tribunal.'

The United Nations accused Israel of violating the accord with a raid on eastern Lebanon on Saturday, warning that it could further rattle foreign nations being called upon to sign up to a beefed-up UN force on the border.

UN Security Council Resolution 1701 that led to the ceasefire which began to go into effect early on the morning of August 14 calls for Israeli troops to withdraw from south Lebanon with the deployment of the Lebanese army and a strengthened UN force of 15,000 troops.

It also calls for the disarmament of Hezbollah, something the Shiite militia has so far refused to do.

The UN has been urging countries, particularly European nations, to send troops to a planned 15,000-strong peacekeeping force, but most governments want more details on the details of the mandate of the force before send their troops.

'The role of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is to help the Lebanese army,' Murr said.

Murr vowed that the areas that come under the Lebanese army's responsibility 'will be free of arms,' in an apparent reference to Hezbollah weapons.

'When we are talking about Hezbollah arms, rockets ... we will follow the procedures stipulated by the United Nations,' he said.

But he said the UN demands for Hezbollah to disarm could only be discussed once all other terms of the resolution are implemented.

Murr said Lebanon has appointed an officer to represent the army in a joint operations room set up with UNIFIL to follow up on implementation of Resolution 1701.

The Lebanese warning came as meanwhile the Israeli Air Force flew over Lebanon's Bekaa valley, with the Lebanese army saying the mid- altitude overflight also took in the Lebanese-Syrian border area.

Meanwhile in Israel, cabinet ministers vowed that Israeli strikes like the raid on Saturday when commandos clashed with Hezbollah fighters in the Lebanese mountain village of Buday.

The Israeli military said the operation was aimed at cutting off arms supplies to the Hezbollah coming from Syria and Iran. On Sunday, Trade Minister Eliahu Yishai declared, 'we must thwart all attempts for arms from Syria being supplied to the Hezbollah. For each such action there must be a counter-action.'

Meanwhile Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Seniora accused Israel of committing crimes against humanity during its 33- days offensive in Lebanon.

'This is a criminal act which reflects Israel's hatred to destroy Lebanon and its unity,' he said during a tour of Beirut's bombed-out southern suburbs with parliament speaker Nabih Berri.

'I hope all the international media will transmit this picture to every person in the world so that it shows this criminal act, this crime against humanity,' he said.

'We will not allow the Israeli enemy... to destroy our national unity,' said Hezbollah MP Ali Ammar who met Seniora and Berri during their tour of the southern suburbs, a stronghold of the Shiite Muslim group.