Sunday, August 13, 2006

Israel says it can target Hizbollah arms despite truce--in other words, it has no intention of honoring the ceasefire

Yahoo! News
Israel says it can target Hizbollah arms despite truce

By Adam EntousSun Aug 13, 2:40 PM ET

Israel believes it will be entitled to use force to prevent Hizbollah from rearming and to clear guerrilla positions out of southern Lebanon after a U.N. truce takes effect, Israeli officials said on Sunday.

Israeli officials said such operations are "defensive" in nature and therefore permissible under a U.N. Security Council resolution which calls for Israel to halt "all offensive military operations."

Western diplomats and U.N. officials said they feared Israel's broad definition of "defensive" actions could lead to a resurgence in large-scale fighting
, preventing the swift deployment of international troops meant to monitor a ceasefire.

The Israeli operations could include air strikes against arms convoys traveling anywhere in Lebanese territory, a senior Israeli official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Major-General Benny Gantz, head of the ground forces branch, told reporters that the Israeli army will cease fire if Hizbollah will cease fire.

But he added: "The ceasefire is not a cessation of Israeli army activity in the Lebanon arena ... It will protect its troops and civilians."

Like Israel, Hizbollah has said it will abide by the U.N. resolution. But the guerrilla group said it will carry on confronting any Israeli soldiers on Lebanese soil.

"It will be a fragile truce," said a Western diplomat involved in the deliberations.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's cabinet formally approved the resolution on Sunday. The United Nations said Israeli and Lebanese leaders had agreed a truce would take effect at 8 a.m. (0500 GMT) on Monday.


The truce will mark the end of Israel's offensive operations, senior Israeli officials said.

But they said the army would press ahead with operations aimed at "clearing out" Hizbollah fighters from areas in southern Lebanon where some 30,000 Israeli troops have been deployed ahead of the truce.

A Western diplomat said the United States and other major powers would not object to such "mopping up" operations, provided they are restricted to the south.

The resolution also imposes an arms embargo in Lebanon on the delivery of weapons or military equipment to "any entity or individual" excluding the Lebanese army and U.N. troops.

**will the US stop sending weapons to Israel?**

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said the embargo means that any "arms entering Lebanon for Hizbollah would be a violation of the resolution."

"As a result, if no one else was acting to prevent that violation, Israel would be entitled to do so," Regev said, without going into details.

Israel has attacked vehicles it said were carrying weapons to Hizbollah during the month-long war. But some convoys turned out to be carrying civilians, not weapons. An air strike on a convoy on Friday killed a Lebanese Red Cross worker and six other civilians.

A senior Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israel was very concerned that the embargo outlined in the resolution will not be enforced, putting the onus on Israel to act militarily.

"We will not allow the re-supply of rockets and ammunition to Hizbollah if they try to do it under the pretext of the cessation of hostilities," the official said.

"Violation of the embargo... is something that is clearly an offensive move against Israel. It is therefore something that we cannot accept and we have full right to take defensive measures again," the official added.

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