Israel Makes No Comment on Lebanon Airstrike

YERUSHALAYIM (AP) -

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday would not confirm or deny whether Israel carried out an airstrike along the Syrian-Lebanon border, but said he would do everything possible to protect the security of Israeli citizens.

Netanyahu commented hours after Lebanon’s state news agency reported that Israeli aircraft had carried out two airstrikes late Monday. While Israel’s military refused to comment, Israel has carried out similar airstrikes in the past on suspected weapons shipments believed to be bound from Syria to Hizbullah terrorists in Lebanon.

At a news conference with the visiting German chancellor, Angela Merkel, he said Israel’s policy is not to discuss what others claim it did.

“We do all that is needed to protect the security of Israeli citizens,” he said.

Lebanon’s National News Agency said the air raids took place near Nabi Sheet, a remote village in Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa Valley. The agency did not say what was targeted in the attack. The porous border is frequently used to move people and weapons between Lebanon and Syria. Hizbullah has a strong presence in the area. Arab media reports said Hizbullah had suffered casualties, though neither the group nor the Lebanese military confirmed that an airstrike had actually taken place.

Eyal Ben-Reuven, a former deputy head of the Israeli military’s Northern Command, said he doubted Hizbullah would retaliate since it had its hands full fighting the Syrian civil war. Having said that, he said Hizbullah was still dangerous and it was imperative that Israel maintain its ability to operate freely in the skies and in the seas and block any more advanced weapons from reaching Hizbullah.

“Israel has always stayed as the main [target] for Hizbullah and Iran,” he said. “A terror organization gets these kinds of capabilities not for deterrence, but for acts. This is the difference between states and organization. This is something that we have to keep in our hands to prevent this kind of transfer of game-changing weapons,” he said.