Hezbollah May Launch Attacks Against Northern Israel, Warns General

By Matthew Harwood

As Israel's military attacks on the Gaza Strip enters the tenth day, an Israeli general is warning that Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Shia terrorist organization situated in Lebanon, may use Palestinian proxy groups to launch attacks against northern Israel.

Haaretz reports:

Head of Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin told the cabinet Sunday that Hezbollah might carry out a limited attack in the north via a Palestinian terror group in response to the Israel Defense Forces ground operation now underway in Gaza .... "Hezbollah might carry out a low-profile attack by means of a Palestinian organization that would be limited and not set the border alight," Yadlin said. He added that forces also remained on high alert in light of a possible Hezbollah strike against an Israeli target abroad." He said the date to watch for was February 14, the date last year on which senior Hezbollah operative Imad Mughniyeh was assassinated.

The chief of Shin Bet, Israel's secret service, told Israeli ministers that the goal of Israel's military operations is to stop Hamas' ability to launch rockets at Israel while also destroying its underground tunnel system that is used to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip, an area of 145 square miles packed with approximately 1.5 million people.

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Before the start of hostilities on December 27, Hamas began firing rockets into Israel in mid-November. Both sides blamed each other for an end to a truce negotiated in late June. Hamas said its rocket attacks were in response to Israeli operations that killed 11 militants as well as Israel's closing of Gaza crossings. (For a good timeline of the conflict over the Gaza Strip and Hamas' birth and evolution, click here.)

Despite Israeli claims of self defense and American and British support, the U.N. Security Council on Saturday tried to pass a resolution condemning Israel for its military operations in Gaza and its "military attacks against the civilian population," reported The United States, a permanent member with veto power, vetoed the resolution.

U.S. envoy Alejandro Wolff said the U.S. wants a cease-fire that results in "no more rocket attacks, no more smuggling bombs."

"We shared our view in the root cause ... that is Hamas continues the rocket attacks and violence," he said on Saturday. "We were not able to come to an agreement today."

British Ambassador John Sawers said last week that the Libyan-sponsored draft resolution was not balanced enough for his government to support.

The New York Times reports today that despite international diplomacy seeking an immediate cease-fire, the Israeli military continued to drive further into the Gaza Strip, taking control of Hamas rocket-launching areas and high-rise buildings.

Israel's foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, said the military campaign will not end until Hamas' ability to launch rockets into Israel at will is terminated. She added that Israel  has a right to defend itself and further justified the military operations as a regional campaign “against extremism and against terror."


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