Lebanon's defense minister said
Sunday he is certain Hezbollah will not violate a U.N.-brokered ceasefire
with Israel, and has warned of harsh consequences for any violator in
Defense Minister Elias Murr's warning comes a day
after Israeli commandos
conducted a raid in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.
Israel says it launched the mission to prevent Syria and Iran from
transferring weapons to Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. But Lebanese
officials and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan criticized the operation
as a violation of the week-old truce.
Sunday, Murr said any rocket that is fired from inside Lebanese
territory would be considered as collaboration with Israel, because it
would provide a pretext for the Israelis to strike at Lebanon. He added
that any group that breaks the cease-fire would be committing treason and would suffer the
Murr said he believes Hezbollah is committed to the U.N. resolution
that ended the hostilities and would not violate it. His warning indicates
he is concerned that factions
other than Hezbollah, such as Palestinian groups in Lebanon, might try to
draw retaliation from Israel by firing at it.
The defense minister also warned that Israel would have to fight the
Lebanese army if there is another violation of the truce. The Lebanese
army began deploying 15,000 troops to the south on Thursday. During the
more than month of fighting between Hezbollah and Israel, Lebanon's army
did not take part in the conflict.
U.N. Envoy Terje Roed-Larsen said in Beirut that the Israeli raid was
"unhelpful" and he warned that the ceasefire is very fragile.
"We also do believe that, unfortunately, we are at a potential tilting
edge where things very easily within the next few weeks and months can
slide out of control," said Terje Roed-Larsen.
Also Sunday, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora for the first time
visited the devastated Shiite suburbs south of Beirut. He called the
destruction from Israeli air strikes a crime against humanity.
Mr. Siniora said once again Lebanon will rebuild and the country would
remain despite Israel's violence.
In Cairo Sunday, Arab League foreign ministers held an emergency
meeting. An official said the ministers would discuss a plan to create an
Arab League fund for Lebanon's reconstruction.