Jerusalem – The Middle East Newsline has confirmed that the U.S.-trained and equipped Lebanese army, many of whose soldiers are Shiites, has refused orders by the government to fight Hezbollah.
The Lebanese army has received about $250 million from the United States over the last two years. Most of the funding came in the form of combat vehicles, equipment and training.
Lebanese Gen. Michel Suleiman has rejected government demands for a crackdown on Hezbollah. Gen. Suleiman has dismissed a proposal to declare a state of emergency and impose a curfew.
Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said his cabinet was considering declaring a state of emergency. Mr. Saniora and his ministers have blamed Hezbollah, Iran and Syria for fomenting the violence.
Gen. Suleiman has agreed to deploy the army in Beirut. But they said military forces refused to open roads blocked by Hezbollah or halt armed clashes.
“Those who try to arrest us, we will arrest them,” Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said on Thursday. “Those who shoot at us, we will shoot at them. The hand raised against us, we will cut it off.”
The violence, sparked by a Lebanese government decision that banned Hezbollah’s separate telecommunications system, has alarmed the diplomatic community in Beirut. Kuwait has ordered its nationals to leave Lebanon immediately, and the United States has restricted travel for embassy staffers.
Iran Increases Weapons Shipments To Hamas Regime
Israel’s military has determined that Iran increased weapons shipments to the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli military sources informed the Israeli media yesterday that Iran has employed Hezbollah and other proxies to send rockets, missiles and other equipment to the Gaza Strip. Iranian weapons shipments from Lebanon to the coast of the Gaza Strip and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula increased in March and April.
“The Iranians have developed methods that exploit holes in the radar coverage of the Israeli navy,” an Israeli military source said. “This has made it much more difficult for us to intercept weapons shipments to Gaza.”
Hezbollah has sent merchant ships from Lebanon laden with weapons through the eastern Mediterranean. Outside of the territorial waters of Egypt and Israel, the ships released sealed barrels that contain missile and rocket components.
The barrels were believed to be collected by Gaza fishermen directed by Hamas and then returned to shore. The sources said most of the weapons shipments have escaped Israeli detection.
“The sea smuggling method is becoming more prevalent as Egypt cracks down on weapons smuggling through the tunnels,” the source said. “The Egyptian navy and coast guard have a marginal presence along the eastern Sinai coast.”
Iran has also smuggled via the Mediterranean advanced mortars to Hamas. Hamas has been receiving 120-mm Iranian-origin mortars with a range of 10 kilometers. Another 120-mm mortar was said to have a range of six kilometers.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, responsible for the equipping and training of Hamas, was said to use merchant ships in the smuggling effort.
Hezbollah loaded these ships in the ports of Latakia and Tartous in Syria as well as in Beirut and Dubai. In most cases, the stated destination of these ships has been Egypt.
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2008