TEL AVIV (Dec. 28)
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin blamed Syria for not doing its part to stop Hezbollah attacks on the southern Lebanon buffer zone and warned Syria and Lebanon this week that peace negotiations would suffer as a result of the continuing attacks on Israeli and allied troops in the zone.
Rabin, who is also defense minister, spoke to reporters Tuesday while touring the area after the Islamic fundamentalist organization staged two attacks Tuesday morning on Israel Defense Force and South Lebanon Army troops in the security zone, which sits between Israel and Lebanon.
In retaliation, Israeli air force planes staged three bombing raids on Hezbollah bases north of the zone, including one in the evening.
“Syrian influence on the Lebanese government could lessen tensions in the area,” the prime minister said.
“But Assad is more interested in maintaining his authority over the Lebanese government than in bringing about quiet in the border area,” Rabin charged.
“Some months ago, when the Beirut authorities were considering moving the Lebanese army southward towards the (Israeli) border to disarm the Hezbollah and other local militias, it was the Syrians who banned the southward movement and thus allowed the Hezbollah militias to main their influence north of the (security) zone,” he said.
“That shows the importance of the zone to our security,” Rabin said.
He also observed that Hezbollah, in turn, depends on the Syrians for its supplies, which arrive “from Hezbollah sources and suppliers in Iran via Damascus airport.”
Reports from Lebanon said two Hezbollah members were killed in the first raid and several others wounded.
Hezbollah continued its attacks in the afternoon with Katyusha rockets fired from north of the zone at IDF and SLA positions.
One Israeli soldier suffered slight injuries to his leg when Hezbollah forces fired mortar shells and automatic fire from north of the zone at IDF and SLA positions.