Lebanese Report: Israel Getting Tougher on Hezbollah, Syria

YERUSHALAYIM -
A Hezbollah fighter holds an RPG in the coastal border town of Naqoura, Lebanon, during a tour for reporters on April 20. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Over the past several weeks there were at least three reports of Israeli attacks on Syrian targets, the latest coming on Motzoei Shabbos when Arab media reported that IDF planes struck Syrian positions in Quneitra. According to a Lebanese report, the uptick in Israeli attacks is the result of a strategic decision taken in Yerushalayim to step up activities against Hezbollah. The decision was made after the United States, according to the report, assured Israel that it would not protest these attacks.

The objective of the attacks on Syria is to prevent the transport of weapons from Syria to Lebanon for the use of Hezbollah. A report last week said that IDF planes had bombed a weapons arsenal near the Damascus airport that stored weapons provided by Iran. The weapons, according to Israeli officials, were likely to be sent on to Hezbollah for use in terror attacks or a future war against Israel. Hezbollah confirmed that an attack took place early Thursday, attributing it to Israel. Israel had no comment on the report. The Reuters news agency quoted what it called a high-placed Israeli security source as saying that the attack had been undertaken by the IDF.

The report, in the Al Jumhuriya newspaper, said that the recent warning by Jordanian King Abdullah to Lebanese leaders was part of this new effort. The State Department in recent weeks has spoken out against Hezbollah’s influence in Lebanon and especially in Syria. In response, the Lebanese leaders told Abdullah that any tension that would develop would be between Israel and Hezbollah, and that the government would not get involved. The targets Israel has hit in Syria are all associated with Hezbollah, according to the report.

The report also quoted American sources as saying that the U.S. was interested in removing Lebanon and Syria from Iran’s sphere of influence. Hezbollah is seen as an agent of Iran, and thus Israel has been given permission to “starve” it of weapons in order to reduce its influence. “The true test will be if Iran accepts this new situation,” the report added.