TEL AVIV (Mar. 2)
A senior leader of Amal, the mainstream Shi’ite militia in southern Lebanon, charged Monday that the Lebanese regular army was turning a blind eye to arms traffic by Hezbollah in the region the army ostensibly controls.
Hezbollah, the pro-Iranian Shi’ite fundamentalist militia, is “making fools” of the regular army the Beirut government sent to establish its authority in southern Lebanon, according to Sheik Ali Amin.
He said the army is being forced to ignore large quantities of weapons transported through the region by Hezbollah gunmen.
Amal has frequently complained that Beirut’s policy of disarming the “unofficial militias” in the south strips Amal of its weapons but allows Hezbollah guerrillas to flaunt theirs.
Meanwhile, Gen. Antoine Lehad, commander of the Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army, warned Amal not to harbor Hezbollah guerrillas in its villages.
If the Hezbollah fighters resume firing Katyusha rockets at Israel, they will suffer “severe retribution” by the Israel Defense Force, he said in a statement broadcast by the SLA-controlled Voice of the South radio station.
Lehad made pointed reference to Kafra and Yater villages, just north of the southern Lebanon security zone, which were raided by IDF units last month in an operation aimed at destroying Katyusha launching sites.
Lehad’s warning was similar to his broadcasts before the IDF attack. But unlike last month, it was not backed up by similar warnings from Israeli political and military leaders, such as Defense Minister Moshe Arens and the IDF chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Ehud Barak.