Initial reactions by political leaders to Hezbollah’s deadly attack on an Israeli military convoy in an occupied region of south Lebanon Wednesday drew a mix of praise, blame and fear of escalation.
A Foreign Ministry statement said Lebanon remained commited to U.N. Resolution 1701, arguing that Hezbollah’s attack did not amount to a violation of the 2006 deal since it targeted an Israeli military convoy inside the Shebaa Farms, which is occupied Lebanese territory.
“The Foreign Ministry reaffirms Lebanon’s commitment to Resolution 1701 for protecting itself from Israeli aggression,” the statement said.
The statement also deplored the death of a UNIFIL peacekeeper from the Spanish battalion in cross border fire. Israel's military said two of its soldiers were killed and 7 wounded in the attack. Earlier media reports said four soldiers were killed.
Iran's Revolutionary Guards expressed solidarity with its Hezbollah ally, vowing to “stand besides the resistance against the Zionists.”
Lawmakers visiting Speaker Nabih Berri said he was conducting high-level consultations to contain the ensuing exchange of fire.
Future Movement MP Samir Jisr said that the Hezbollah attack would not affect ongoing dialogue between his group and the party.
“There are differences with Hezbollah on several issues, most importantly the decision of war and peace... but this will not hinder attempts to reduce sectarian tension or try to solve the presidential crisis,” Jisr told al-Markazia news agency.
“From the beginning, we decided that dialogue would address these two issues and we put major disputed issues aside.”
Jisr said that the date of the fifth dialogue session between the two parties, scheduled for Monday, would remain unchanged.
MP Walid Jumblatt wrote on his Twitter account, “it seems that we have entered a phase of big troubles.” He also called for taking “relevant precautions” to confront a possible Israeli aggression against Lebanon.
Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea of the March 14 coalition which is opposed to Hezbollah, held the party solely responsible for any potential Israeli response, and for drawing Lebanon into a battle with Israel without the consent of its people and government.
“Today’s development indicates that Hezbollah is more and more expanding its regional schemes against the Lebanese state,” Geagea said.
“Hezbollah has no right to implicate the Lebanese people in a battle with Israel. There is a government and a parliament which can decide on that,” Geagea added, deploring “Hezbollah’s lack of transparency” in its ongoing dialogue with political rival, the Future Movement.
Former Minister Faisal Karami of the Hezbollah-led March 8 coalition applauded the ambush of the Israeli military convoy as “the relevant response at the relevant time and relevant place.”
“Time of impunity for Israel is over. Now (the Israelis) need to review calculations, absorb defeat and run to shelters,” Karami said.
Former President Michel Sleiman called on political forces to stand firmly behind the government, cautioning that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking to draw Lebanon into a confrontation to serve his election interests.
“Israel should not be allowed to take advantage of Lebanese divisions,” Sleiman said.
“Political forces should back the government and reinforce its position to give Lebanon (bigger) immunity in order to overcome this difficult period,” he added.
Meanwhile, U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Sigrid Kaag, called on Lebanon and Israel to exercise self-restraint and to refrain from taking any action that could further destabilize the situation along the Blue Line.
All parties are strongly urged to continue to abide by their obligations under Security Council resolution 1701, Kaag said in a statement.
Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of the Palestinian resistance group Hamas, described Hezbollah’s attack as “a natural and legitimate response to Israel's crimes.”
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