Israel will not agree to a cease-fire in Lebanon until Hezbollah is completely disarmed and no longer can operate as a militia force, top Israeli officials said today.
Their statements upped the ante in the diplomatic game now being played out in Arab capitals and at the United Nations headquarters in New York over the terms of a U.S.-brokered settlement to the ongoing fighting in northern Israel and Lebanon.
“If Lebanon does not agree to disarm Hezbollah, there is not going to be a cease-fire,” said Brig. Gen. Yossi Kupperwasser, a deputy director of Israeli military intelligence whose term ended last month.
He was briefing reporters today on behalf of the Israeli military general staff along with Gideon Meir, director general of the Israeli foreign ministry.
Israel intends to continue military operations in Lebanon “until Hezbollah understands that it must give up its weapons,” Kupperwasser said. “I don’t see the Lebanese government taking up arms against them.”
Nevetheless, Israel is still hoping for a diplomatic solution, “because a military solution is too costly,” he added.
For Israel to completely vanquish Hezbollah on the ground would require a massive ground invasion of the country and air strikes that would inevitably kill large numbers of civilians, he said.
“That is not the goal of this operation,” said Meir.
Kupperwasser said that Israel has attached 5,000 targets in Lebanon over the past month, and for each one extraordinary efforts were taken to verify that Israeli bombs would not hit civilians.
“In 4,990 cases, we did the job right. In the other cases, such as Qana, we investigate what went wrong.”
An air strike on a building where Israel believed Hezbollah was hiding a rocket launcher killed 28 civilians in Qana on July 30.
He insisted that numbers of civilian casualties given by the Lebanese government were “very, very exaggerated,” and included “several hundred Hezbollah members.”
Israel has been able to positively identify 200 Hezbollah members it has killed in the fighting, but believes another 200 or more have been killed.
Before the war started, Hezbollah had 10,000 fighters throughout Lebanon, Kupperwasser said, including “a division” of around 3,000 fighters and support personnel along the border with Israel.
Hezbollah was not able to use its long-range Fajr-3 and Fajr-5 rockets against Israeli targets because the Israeli air force had taken out most of the launchers in the first days of the war.
“I know how many Fajrs were supposed to be hit, but I can’t tell you how many of them actually were hit,” he said. He estimated that Hezbollah still has “several hundred” long-range rockets and “many thousands of short-range rockets” remaining in its stockpiles.
Some Western news agencies have incorrectly reported that Iranian-made Fajr-5 rockets hit Haifa on Sunday. “They were not Fajr-5s, but Syrian-made 220 mm rockets,” Kupperwasser told NewsMax.
Hezbollah has fired longer-range 302 mm rockets at targets south of Haifa, but they are also Syrian made, he added.
Mickey Rosenfeld, spokesman for the Israeli police, told NewsMax on Monday that “only a handful” of Iranian-made Fajr-3 rockets have hit Israel since the beginning of the conflict. The most spectacular strike from a Fajr-3 killed eight railway workers at a repair depot in Haifa on July 16.
Original article: http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2006/8/7/91412.shtml?s=lh
— Kenneth R. Timmerman President, Middle East Data Project, Inc.
Author: Countdown to Crisis:
The Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran Contributing editor:
Newsmax.com Tel: 301-946-2918 Reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.KenTimmerman.com