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Israel reserves the right to launch a pre-emptive strike against Hezbollah, a top Israeli general said.

Moshe Kaplinsky, the deputy chief of staff of the Israeli military, said a pre-emptive strike against Hezbollah is possible if other measures do not limit the terrorist group. “If nothing changes in the situation in Lebanon, somebody will have to change the situation,” Kaplinsky said over the weekend at a retreat in Virginia hosted by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “I include pre-emptive strikes.” Kaplinsky praised the efforts of the United Nations peacekeeping force assigned to southern Lebanon since the end of the summer 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, but said the force needed authorization to stop weapons smuggling from Syria.

He also praised the Lebanese army for raising its profile in the south and called for greater international backing for the force.

“The Lebanese army must get more equipment, must get more power in order to get the trust of the Lebanese people,” Kaplinsky said. The general, who is retiring in two weeks, favored negotiations with Syria in an international context as a means of divorcing the Syrians from Iran, Hezbollah’s principal backer. He said he did not believe Syria sought war, and “Israel has no intention of going to war with Syria.”

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