U.N.: Israeli raid violates cease-fire
Israel says mission into Lebanon aimed at halting arms transfer
Sunday, August 20, 2006; Posted: 1:00 a.m. EDT (05:00 GMT)
Bandages and debris left behind after the Israeli raid in Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Israeli commandos conduct raid in easternLebanon (2:44)
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Hezbollah hands out cash to the needy public (2:45)
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BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is "deeply concerned" about Israel's commando raid Saturday in eastern Lebanon, which he said violated the cease-fire resolution concerning Israel and Hezbollah, his spokesman said in a written statement.
The statement also cited the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon as saying there have "also been several air violations by Israeli military aircraft."
Annan's comments affirmed those by Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, who earlier had condemned the Israeli operation as a violation of the U.N.-brokered cease-fire.
A Hezbollah member of the Lebanese Parliament, Hassan Hobballa, called the raid "proof that the Israeli enemy is still carrying on with its aggression ... and that it doesn't care about the resolutions taken by the U.N. Security Council." (Watch what appears to be the aftermath of an Israeli raid -- 2:40)
Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr has threatened to halt the deployment of army troops to the country's southern region unless the United Nations can ensure Israeli compliance with Resolution 1701, Murr's adviser told CNN.
The adviser said Hezbollah is complying with the agreement. Under the agreement, Israeli troops are to gradually cede control of southern Lebanon -- Hezbollah's former stronghold -- to the U.N. military contingent in Lebanon known as UNIFIL and then to Lebanese army troops.
Israel defended Saturday's operation, saying it was aimed at preventing the transfer of weapons from Iran and Syria to Hezbollah, an action barred by the resolution.
Israel won't accept "a cease-fire in which Hezbollah can use that cease-fire just as a timeout to regroup and rearm and prepare for the next round," said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev.
"Israel would not have to do these sort of operations if the international forces and the Lebanese forces were following through on their commitment ... preventing these arms shipments for Hezbollah."
In Washington, a White House spokeswoman said the Bush administration took "note" of Israel's statement.
"We note that the prevention of the resupply of weapons to Hezbollah by Iran and Syria is a key provision of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701," said Jeannie Mamo. "And the incident underscores the importance of quickly deploying the enhanced UNIFIL."
'Exercise maximum restraint'
The cease-fire agreement was to bring an end to nearly five weeks of fighting that claimed the lives of more than 900 Lebanese and 159 Israelis. The conflict began on July 12 after Lebanese-based Hezbollah militants kidnapped two Israeli soldiers during a cross-border raid.
Annan called on "all parties to respect strictly the arms embargo, exercise maximum restraint, avoid provocative actions and display responsibility in implementing resolution 1701," the statement by his spokesman said.
"All such violations of Security Council resolution 1701 endanger the fragile calm that was reached after much negotiation and undermine the authority of the Government of Lebanon," the statement added.
Annan spoke Saturday with both Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Lebanon's Siniora, the spokesman said. Annan instructed both governments to provide to the Security Council "daily reports of compliance," the statement said.
During his discussion with Olmert, Annan said he had received complaints about Israel Defense Forces activity in Lebanon, specifically the Bekaa Valley raid on Saturday, according to Israeli government officials.
The two also discussed progress in the formation of the agreed-upon international U.N. peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, Israeli government officials said.
Their discussion coincided with the arrival by boat of 50 French troops at the southern Lebanese city of Naqoura, the first contingent of international reinforcements since the cease-fire went into effect Monday. (Watch the first U.N. troops trickle in to Lebanon -- 2:12)
Meanwhile, a U.N. delegation met with Siniora and other Lebanese officials, including Murr and parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, to discuss the means of implementing Security Council Resolution 1701.
One Israeli officer was killed and two were wounded Saturday in the Israeli raid in the Bekaa Valley, the Israel Defense Forces said.
After landing in Bouday, IDF forces clashed with Hezbollah forces, a Baalbeck Civil Defense official said.
The fighting ended with Israeli airstrikes in the area, about 15 miles from the Lebanese-Syrian border -- a long-time Hezbollah stronghold. One air raid targeted a bridge, the Lebanese army said in a statement.
There were no Lebanese army or Hezbollah casualties, a Baalbeck Civil Defense official said.
CNN's Nada El-Husseini and Elaine Quijano contributed to this report