Lebanese, Israeli militaries on alert along border

Monday, January 17, 2011   E-Mail this story   Free Headline Alerts

NICOSIA Israel and Lebanon have placed their militaries on alert in the wake of the collapse of the government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Officials said the Lebanese Army has been placed on alert in southern Lebanon near the border with Israel. A similar situation was reported along the Israeli side of the border.

"The solution to this crisis is the Lebanese people's faith in the country and military," Lebanese Chief of Staff Gen. Jean Kahwaji said.

Kahwaji did not detail the military's deployment in the south. But in an interview on Jan. 13 the military chief dismissed the prospect of another civil war in Lebanon.

"The political leaders will not provide such free service to the enemies of Lebanon led by Israel, which is constantly working to divide Lebanon and weaken the spirit of resistance," Kahwaji said.

Over the last year, the U.S.-trained Lebanese Army has bolstered its forces in the south. Most of the units were said to consist of Shi'ites, with officers linked to the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah.

Officials said Lebanese troops have been deployed around government buildings as well as in municipalities controlled by the ruling Future Party of Prime Minister Saad Hariri. They did not rule out Hizbullah-directed Shi'ite and Palestinian unrest in wake of the collapse of Hariri's government.

In Israel, the military has not significantly increased troops along the border with Lebanon. Officials said Israel did not expect a Hizbullah attack against Israel although this has not been ruled out.

"You never know in such a volatile and delicate situation, where everyone has a lot of weapons, a lot of resentment, a lot of frustration," [Ret.] Maj. Gen. Yaakov Amidror, a leading strategist and government consultant, said. "You never know where it could lead."

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