Even as thousands of Lebanese troops and French engineers started to occupy areas vacated by Israeli Army to strengthen the ceasefire that promises a stop to rocket attacks by Hezbollah, reports emerge of a clandestine Israeli action deep inside Lebanon. The ostensible objective of the operation was to capture remnant Hezbollah terrorists or renegade elements that Tel Aviv claims were receiving arms from Syria. It also warned that such actions will continue as long as the Lebanese Army and the UN peacekeepers are unable to stop shipments of arms.
Israel’s legitimate claim that the slow deployment of peacekeepers from Europe may be used by Hezbollah to assimilate positions and accumulate “endless amounts of weaponry” for future clandestine strikes against the Jewish state. The US refused to criticize the strike near Hezbollah stronghold Baalbek stating that the UN-brokered resolution specifically wanted disarming the Hezbollah. Israeli spokesperson said that the commandos lost at least officer in the operation while another is critically wounded.
Predictably, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Fouad Siniora accused Israel of violating the ceasefire and that he would take the issue up with the UN. While UN General Secretary Kofi Annan quickly supported Siniora’s position, he did not say anything against Hezbollah’s rearming bid as claimed by Israel. Lebanon’s Defense Minister Elias Murr said that any group breaking the cease-fire in southern Lebanon would be “decisively dealt with” and would be considered a traitor. Murr seemed to suggest the existence of splinter factions that may operate with cooperation with or in opposition to the Hezbollah. Murr said that since “the resistance,” meaning the Hezbollah, “is committed not to fire rockets, then any rocket that is fired from the Lebanese territory would be considered collaboration with Israel to provide a pretext” for another invasion. It is not clear if Murr is suggesting that Israel has set up groups that would provide alibi for another invasion, splinter groups that may not honor the ceasefire, or merely providing a cover for the Hezbollah to keep up their terrorist activities with impunity. With such ambiguity, it is not clear what action Murr intends to take against these groups. Murr said the Lebanese army now controlled the entire border with Syria and would crack down on arms shipments claiming that “There is no flexibility on arms smuggling.”