Israel warns Lebanon amidst tensions on northern border
Israeli officials said Monday that they believe Hezbollah will try to escalate the tension on the Lebanon border by organizing civilian demonstrations and protests in the Har Dov area, as it did about a week ago, as part of an effort to launch a popular uprising against Israel, reported Haaretz.
Israel has warned Beirut through the United Nations that it would be held responsible for any hostile action launched from Lebanese territory.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak met on Monday with U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and told him Israel was concerned by the developments on the Lebanon border and various Hezbollah statements and moves.
Lebanon sent the United Nations a letter blaming Israel for the explosion of a weapons cache in a southern Lebanese village, the London-based paper Al-Hayat reported Monday.
An Israeli official responded that the cache merely contained ammunition the Israel Defense Forces left in Lebanon that Hezbollah had collected.
Al-Hayat reported that contrary to previous reports, the blast apparently killed several people and injured others.
Lebanon now claims the explosion took place at an uncompleted structure in the village storing "arms left behind by the Israelis" during the 34-day war between Israel and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon in 2006.
The United Nations, which has peacekeepers based in the south, said there were signs the stockpile belonged to Hezbollah, and added that the arms' presence was a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the war.
Israel has also maintained the arms cache belonged to the Shi'ite militia.
A Hezbollah lawmaker said only that the blast was a one-off accident involving an arms cache that had been in place since before the 2006 war. He denied the explosion was a violation of Resolution 1701.
Michael Williams, the United Nations special coordinator for Lebanon, visited Israel a few days ago and met Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, Foreign Ministry Director General Yossi Gal, Military Intelligence commander Amos Yadlin and Brig. Gen. Yossi Heiman, head of the IDF's Strategic Planning Division.
Williams said the UN was concerned about the growing tension on the Lebanon border following the Hezbollah cache's explosion and the civilian march Hezbollah arranged into Israeli territory near Har Dov about a week ago. He said these moves were grave violations of Resolution 1701.
Williams suggested moves to reduce tension, and said the UN had asked the Lebanese army not to let civilians approach the border fence. He also asked Israel to remove an observation post near the site of the Lebanese march a week ago.