Mon, Aug 21, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Lebanon vows to be tough on any breach of ceasefire

AGENCIES , BEIRUT AND JERUSALEM

The Lebanese government said yesterday that it would crush any attempt on the Lebanese side to breach the ceasefire in the conflict with Israel, a day after the UN condemned an Israeli raid on Hezbollah as a truce violation.

"The army will be very tough in dealing with such an issue," Lebanese Defense Minister Elias al-Murr told a news conference.

"Any rocket fired from Lebanon will benefit Israel," he said, suggesting such an incident would provide a pretext for the Jewish state to attack Lebanon.

He said he was confident Hezbollah would stick to the truce and not try to rearm. He said any other faction that attacked Israel would be dealt with as traitors.

Murr said the army now controlled the entire border with Syria and would crack down on arms shipments.

"There is no flexibility on arms smuggling," he said.

Israeli warplanes flew reconnaissance missions over Lebanon yesterday, a day after an Israeli commando raid deep into the country strained the UN-backed truce.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Israel's raid on a Hezbollah stronghold deep in Lebanon on Saturday had violated the truce that went into effect on Aug. 14.

Israel said the operation, in which commandos were airlifted into the area by helicopter, was defensive and designed to disrupt weapons supplies to Hezbollah from Syria and Iran. It denied it had violated the resolution, which allows it to act in self-defense, and accused Hezbollah of doing so by smuggling weapons.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora described the operation as "a naked violation of the cessation of hostilities declared by the Security Council."

Siniora yesterday inspected damage in Beirut's southern suburbs, a Hezbollah stronghold ravaged by Israeli air strikes.

"This is a crime against humanity committed by Israel here and in other areas of Lebanon," he said on a visit to Haret Hreik.

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz said that Israel will prevent the Lebanese army from deploying along the border in areas currently held by Israeli troops until the arrival of an international force in the area.

"We will continue to prevent the Lebanese army from deploying within two kilometers of the border," a senior government official quoted Peretz telling yesterday's weekly Cabinet meeting.

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