Israel Links Hezbollah Attacks to US Planned Strike on Iraq

The military actions launched by Lebanese resistance guerrilla group Hezbollah, or Party of God, along the border area might be seeking to obstruct an American attack on Iraq, the newspaper An Nahar reported on Saturday, quoting Israeli officials.

Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer told visiting US Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield on Friday the "possibility that Syria and Hezbollah might be seeking to pre-occupy the Israeli army in northern Israel in order to block US actions on Iraq."

The Israeli minister said Israel has sent "tough messages to Lebanon and Syria, warning them to rein in Hezbollah. The Jewish state accused Syria of backing Hezbollah's attacks against Israeli army in the disputed Shebaa Farms.

Ben Eliezer hoped Satterfield deliver a message during his coming visits to the two Arab countries that "Beirut and Damascus are playing with fire if they allow Hezbollah to operate against Israeli targets in southern Lebanon."

Hezbollah launched mortars and anti-tank missiles on Israeli positions on Thursday in the farms. Three Israeli soldiers were wounded, one of them seriously.

Israel withdrew from south Lebanon in May 2000, ending a 22-yearoccupation there. However, Beirut and Hezbollah claim the sovereignty of the Shebaa Farms, which are under Israel's control. Israel insists that the farms belong to Syria and the problem should be solved in Israeli-Syrian peace negotiation.



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