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Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Intelligence arrow Israel warns Hezbollah: We won't tolerate arms smuggling
Israel warns Hezbollah: We won't tolerate arms smuggling PDF Print E-mail
Written by Barak Ravid, Haaretz   
Thursday, 07 August 2008

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Israel warned Hezbollah Wednesday it intended to put an end to the arms smuggling into Lebanon. Israel said the Shi'ite group is using the arms to bolster its position domestically and as a strategic threat on behalf of Iran.

During a meeting Wednesday of the political-security cabinet on Hezbollah, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said "Israel will not acquiesce to the continued smuggling of arms."

During the meeting, the ministers were updated on continued Syrian transfers of advanced military hardware to Hezbollah, including air defense systems, in an effort to limit the freedom of operations of the Israeli air force in Lebanon, particularly in reconnaissance and surveillance operations.
 
The ministers were briefed on intelligence assessments, which hold that Hezbollah is interested in a confrontation with Israel over the air force overflights, which will allow the organization to carry on with claims it serves as a "shield" against Israeli "aggression."

The ministers were also alerted to the possibility Syria may transfer Hezbollah more sophisticated weaponry than is currently in the Shi'ite group's arsenal.

The cabinet agreed that Israel could not reconcile with the transfer of advanced systems and said the entry of such weapons into Lebanon must be stopped.

Intelligence officials stressed Israel's deterrence vis-a-vis Hezbollah and Syria was very high, and noted there was serious concern in Syria and Hezbollah that any provocation would result in a severe Israeli response.

In recent weeks, Israel has applied heavy pressure on a number of world leaders, foreign ministers and UN Secretary General Ban, asking they intervene to prevent the arms smuggling into Lebanon through Syria.

Intensive diplomatic efforts were made to prevent the transfer of the arms from Syria to Hezbollah, including "quiet" messages to a number of governments and to the UN, where Israel made it clear it would not accept the transfer of anti-aircraft missiles to Hezbollah.

Israel has warned that any such transfers would be perceived in Jerusalem as "a violation of the strategic balance" in the region.

In response to the Israeli signals, a number of international diplomats conveyed to Syria warnings against the transfers to Hezbollah.

Israeli sources said that even though the transfers have been blocked at this stage, this is a temporary gain and in the coming months there is likely to be another attempt to transfer the weapons to Hezbollah and to deploy them in Lebanon.

During the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah was found to have advanced Russian-made anti-tank missiles that Syria had transferred to the Shi'ite group.

Israel protested to Moscow and delivered physical evidence of the missiles, and Russia promised to investigate the matter but to date has not admitted that weapons of its manufacture were transferred to Hezbollah from stocks sold to Syria.
 
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1009384.html

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