Israeli minister says war against Hezbollah may resume

Compiled by Daily Star staff
Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Israel's national infrastructure minister said on Tuesday that war with Hizbullah might restart in a few months, and called for an enhancement of the Israeli Army's capacities. Benjamin Ben-Eliezer told Israeli public radio that the deployment of the Lebanese Army along the border with Israel "will not ensure safety for Israel" and that Hizbullah still presents a threat to the Jewish state.

Meanwhile, Britain-based Jane's International Defense Review reported that Hizbullah received direct intelligence support from Syria during the month-long Israeli offensive on Lebanon, using data collected by listening posts jointly operated by Russian and Syrian crews.

Hizbullah was also fed intelligence from new listening posts built on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, which are operated jointly with Iran, it claimed.

Israel has also alleged that Russian anti-tank missiles procured by Syria were reportedly transferred to Hizbullah and used during the war.

Syria's centrality to the collection and transfer of intelligence to Hizbullah is based on separate agreements Damascus signed with Moscow and Tehran on intelligence cooperation, the Haaretz report said, adding that the deal with Russia is much older than the one with Iran, which was signed earlier this year.

The intelligence cooperation agreement between Syria and Iran is part of a broader strategic cooperation accord that was achieved in November 2005 and confirmed during Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinjead's visit to Damascus in January 2006, Haaretz said.

According to the Jane's report, in its agreement with Syria, Iran insisted that no Russian intelligence officers should be allowed access to the new listening posts, in spite of the long-standing deal between Damascus and Moscow.

The Russian Embassy in Beirut was not available for comment. A Hizbullah spokesperson said his party had no comment.

In another development, Hizbullah held a funeral on Tuesday for one of its Lebanese fighters, who was also an American citizen.

Radwan Saleh, 35, was killed in July during the early days of fighting. Hizbullah members found Saleh's body on Sunday in the village of Maroun al-Ras, one of the last areas Israeli troops left in line with a UN resolution to end the war.

His wife and four children, who live between Lebanon and the United States, flew in from the US for his funeral.

Hizbullah sources said that Saleh joined the resistance in 2000. He lived in California with his wife and children until 1998 before moving back to Lebanon. - Agencies