Israel will respond in kind to Hizbullah attacks across the border with Lebanon, the security cabinet decided overnight.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai said Israel's policy of restraint was over and the Israeli army would strike back fiercely. Prior to this meeting, top Israeli defense officials said that "Israel's patience is wearing thin" and that if the diplomatic efforts fail, Israel will have no choice but to respond harshly to the Hizbullah assaults, including attacks on Syrian targets.
An Israeli soldier sustained moderate wounds from Hizbullah firing on the occupied Shebaa Farms region last night.
Before the cabinet meeting, Israel’s Foreign Minister Shimon Peres appealed by phone to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who promised he would use his influence, while Peres wrote to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, requesting that he ask Syrian and Lebanese authorities to stop Hizbullah guerrillas from amassing arms and troops across the Lebanese border.
In his letter to Annan, Peres warned that recent attacks against Israeli civilian and military targets could have "alarming consequences on the stability of the region." The letter requested Annan's "immediate and personal intervention" with the governments of Syria and Lebanon "to prevent any actions by Hizbullah or others against Israel."
It was delivered by Israeli UN Ambassador Yehuda Lancry, who told reporters that Annan promised to contact immediately "the leadership of Syria and Lebanon and inform Security Council members."
Annan has called upon the Lebanese and Syrian Presidents to reduce tensions with Israel. Annan's phone calls to the two Arab leaders on Wednesday came shortly after Israeli and Hizbullah forces exchanged fire for a second day along the Israeli-Lebanese border. (Albawaba.com)
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