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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Fatal Lebanon raid 'violates' truce


Last Update: Saturday, August 19, 2006. 10:55pm (AEST)

Cease-fire concerns: The Lebanese PM says he has protested about the raid to the UN. [File Photo] (Reuters)
Fatal Lebanon raid 'violates' truce
Lebanon's Prime Minister says an Israeli raid, in which three Hezbollah militants and one Israeli soldier died earlier today, was a "naked violation" of a cease-fire between the warring sides.
The raid on a village near the town of Baalbek, a Hezbollah stronghold in eastern Lebanon, was the first major incident since a United Nations-brokered cease-fire began on Monday.
Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora says he has protested about the incident to visiting UN envoys, who will take up the matter with UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.
Hezbollah's main ally in Lebanon's Government, Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri, says he has also raised the incident with the envoys.
"If Lebanon had launched a similar act, wouldn't the Security Council have met to impose tough sanctions against it?" he said.
Mr Berri says the raid was an attempt by Israel to provoke Hezbollah into retaliation and foil the deployment of the Lebanese army in south Lebanon.
Israel says the operation involving Army Special Forces was aimed at preventing the delivery of weapons to Hezbollah from Iran and Syria.
The Israeli military says it has achieved all its goals during the raid.
Hezbollah's Al Manar television station has reported the group drove back the Israeli forces, which had landed with two Humvee vehicles from helicopters after Israeli war planes fired several missiles and Israeli jets buzzed overhead to disguise the sound of the helicopters.
'Entitled to respond'
Israeli Government spokesman Mark Regev denies the raid breached the cease-fire.
"The cease-fire is part of Security Council Resolution 1701," he said.
"An important part of that resolution is the international arms embargo on Hezbollah.
"If you import weapons for Hezbollah, if you transfer weapons for Hezbollah, that's a violation of the resolution and we're entitled to respond."
He says Israel has a right under the resolution to defend itself against Hezbollah.
"We said from day one of the negotiations about the cease-fire, 'we don't want to see a cease-fire and Hezbollah can use that cease-fire just as a time out to regroup, re-arm and prepare for the next round,' and the UN agreed with us," he said.
"That resolution was passed without dissent, saying there will be an international arms embargo to prevent Hezbollah from being armed again."
The UN resolution also calls for a strengthened UN peacekeeping force of 15,000 troops, alongside an equal number of Lebanese soldiers in south Lebanon.
The UN wants to field an advance force of 3,500 troops by September 2 and the entire complement by November 4.
The first contingent of 50 French engineers has arrived in south Lebanon earlier today.
The Lebanese army has deployed thousands of troops in an attempt to tighten its grip on the Syrian border.
- ABC/Reuters
In other developments:
Three Hezbollah guerillas and one Israeli soldier have been killed in an Israeli raid on one of Hezbollah's bastions in eastern Lebanon. (Full Story)
Israel has seized the Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister Naser al-Shaer, a top official of the Hamas militant group, at his home in the occupied West Bank, his wife and two lawmakers said. (Full Story)
The United Nations is making an urgent appeal for European countries to quickly provide troops for a peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon. (Full Story)
Israeli warplanes have launched air strikes targeting an uninhabited area near Baalbek in eastern Lebanon, police say. (Full Story)
Related Links:
Photo gallery: Middle East unrest
Coverage of the conflict between Israel,Hezbollah and Lebanon in pictures.
Timeline: Middle East crisis
Key events in the crisis between Israel, the Palestinians and Lebanon.
Indepth Coverage: Middle East Conflict
Complete coverage of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.


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