The rocket attacks that targeted the Jewish state yesterday, prompting cross border clashes and Israeli Air Force retaliation, were carried out by “agents” working on behalf of Syria and Iran, Lebanon’s Druze leader Walid Jumblatt said in an interview.
“Agents working for the axis of Tehran and Damascus arranged the rocket volley [against Israel] to create instability in Lebanon and bring conflict to our borders,” Jumblatt told WND.
Jumblatt is the head of Lebanon’s Progressive Socialist Party and is largely considered the most prominent anti-Syrian Lebanese politician.
He accused Syria and Iran of attempting to draw Israel into military clashes with Lebanon to justify the continued arming of Hezbollah, which a United Nations resolution obliges Lebanon to disarm.
“They are trying to prevent the Lebanese army from implementing authority in [areas controlled by Hezbollah.] Also Syria has an economic goal in that it wants to stop investments into Lebanon by making our country unstable,” said Jumblatt.
Yesterday, a barrage of large Katyusha rockets fired from Lebanon landed at an Israeli Defense Forces base in the north of the country near the Israel-Lebanese border, wounding a soldier and causing some damage.
Israel then directed tens of thousands of its citizens in border towns into bomb shelters as it carried out retaliatory air strikes against two bases used by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a Palestinian group with known ties to Hezbollah and the Syrian government.
The IDF said one of the two bases it targeted was used as a storage facility for weaponry and ammunition. The strikes killed at least one PFLP member and wounded five others.
Soon after, Hezbollah guerillas reportedly struck across the Israeli-Lebanese frontier, hitting local Jewish communities and army bases with mortar shells and small arms fire. Israeli jets and IDF artillery units replied by bombarding southern Lebanese areas, striking Hezbollah positions and reportedly killing one Hezbollah militant.
Following several hours of clashes, U.N. peacekeepers last night brokered a cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah in which both sides called an end to the fighting.
The truce was reached after Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora held contacts with U.N. officials, Hezbollah and the U.S., French and Russian ambassadors to Lebanon.
Siniora laid the blame on Israel for yesterdays hostilities, claiming an Israeli withdrawal from the Shaaba Farms, a sliver of territory on the Israel-Lebanese-Syrian border, was “the only way to stop the cycle of violence.”
In a cabinet meeting on Friday, Siniora blamed Israel for a car bombing the same day that killed Mahmoud Majzoub, a top Islamic Jihad terrorist. Israel denied it was involved in the blast.
An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson yesterday told WND Israel would present a complaint against Lebanon to the U.N. Security Council, urging it to implement Resolution 1559, which calls for the disarmament of all armed Lebanese militias, including Palestinian groups and Hezbollah.
Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz said Israel could not ignore Katyusha fire on its territory, and stated he holds the Lebanese government responsible for attacks the originate from its country. Peretz called on Lebanon to deploy its army in areas controlled by Hezbollah.
But Jumblatt said the pressure needs to be applied to Syria and Iran.
“These armed groups are out of control. They are taking orders from Syria and the Tehran government,” said Jumblatt.
The Lebanese government has recently proposed incorporating Hezbollah into its army. Some Lebanese politicians have demanded Hezbollah disarm entirely. But little progress has been made on enforcing an arms ban on the terror group.