Hizbullah to mine Israeli border with Lebanon

Monday, February 16, 2004

NICOSIA Hizbullah has threatened to mine much of the Israeli border with Lebanon.

In the first such public statement, the Iranian-sponsored Islamic insurgency group said it would mine portions of the Israeli-Lebanese border to prevent Israeli military infiltration. Hizbullah said it would oppose the removal of such mines by Israel or United Nations peacekeepers, Middle East Newsline reported.

"There are some border places where the Israelis are used to crossing. I say it in public: It's our right to plant explosives there and prepare ambushes there," Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah told a rally in Jibsheet on Sunday. "The Israeli enemy has no right to ask the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon to come and remove them."

Nasrallah's assertion came in response to a UN statement that opposed Hizbullah mines along the Israeli border. UN officials, including secretary-general Kofi Annan, said the Hizbullah mining of the border has helped escalate tensions along the Israeli-Lebanese border.

But Hizbullah said it plans to use mines as well as ambushes to prevent Israel from crossing the Lebanese border. Nasrallah said his forces, rather than the Lebanese military, would defend the Lebanese border. "Must this area be left abandoned so that the Israelis can enter to plant explosives, kill and kidnap?" Nasrallah asked. Nasrallah addressed the rally hours after a Hizbullah arms depot was damaged by a huge explosion in southern Lebanon. The depot was located between Shabiyeh and Al Majadel. Hizbullah did not acknowledge the explosion.

In January, Hizbullah gunners killed an Israeli soldier in an anti-tank rocket attack against an Israeli bulldozer that sought to clear Hizbullah mines inside Israeli territory. The Hizbullah rocket, which destroyed the bulldozer, was fired when the military vehicle crossed the Lebanese border.

"The fate of the Israeli bulldozer is what any Israeli will meet if they put a foot inside Lebanese land or water," Nasrallah said. "Any Israeli soldier that sets foot on Lebanese land, even if one inch, will bear responsibility for the consequences."

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