Israel, Lebanon act to ease tensions on border
Israel will refrain from harsh military steps towards Lebanon as long as attacks on Israeli troops from the Lebanese side of the border do not resume, the government has decided after, Haaretz reported on Wednesday.
If the attacks on its forces resume, Israel is likely to strike back at Lebanon and perhaps also at Syria, the report added.
Israeli security sources explained that Israel is not interested in heating up the northern front during next week's Jewish holiday, when tens of thousands of tourists are expected to visit the region.
However, Israel was reported to reinforce forces on the border with Lebanon.
Political analysts in Lebanon and Israel believe that the tensions on the border will be eased. Those in Beirut were quoted in the local press that the Lebanese army has upgraded security precautions against potential attacks outside Hizbullah's traditional Shabaa farms zone and those in Tel Aviv say the Israeli border reinforcements were largely theatrics.
Both sides noted that the ongoing Israeli buildup was way short of a force needed to stage a large-scale cross border operation against Lebanon or against Syria via Lebanon. Israel has mainly redoubled its artillery power without fielding alarming tank columns, they said.
The Israeli media on Wednesday played down such extremist calls like those made on Tuesday by Israel's ultra-rightist Housing Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who urged the army and air force to "burn Beirut and Damascus altogether."
Authorities in Beirut are blaming the hostilities on 'unruly Palestinians' who may have filtered out from South Lebanon's refugee camps to shoot at Israeli army patrols from the vicinity of Kfar Kila to avenge the Israeli air attack on an alleged Islamic Jihad training camp near Damascus.
Official sources said the Lebanese army had imposed a tight security dragnet around Sidon's Ein El Hilweh refugee camp, the largest in Lebanon, to prevent potential infiltration out from the camp toward the border with Israel. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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