IDF chief: Hizballah trying to redeploy

Sunday, April 29, 2007 |  by Staff Writer  

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi told Sunday's cabinet meeting in Jerusalem that Hizballah is trying to redeploy its armed forces to southern Lebanon in violation of the UN-brokered ceasefire that ended last summer's war.

Hizballah "is attempting to descend south of the Litani River, to open areas," said Ashkenazi.

The IDF chief added that Lebanese and UN peacekeeping forces have deployed to the area, as promised, but that they have failed to implement an "effective mechanism" for halting the flow of weapons to Hizballah via Syria.

Nor is there any hope that the Lebanese army under the current national leadership will fulfill long-standing international demands to curb weapons smuggling along the country's borders and disarm Hizballah.

"If the Lebanese prime minister was strong enough to control the border, he would do it, but he understands the limits to his power and therefore this does not take place," stated Ashkenazi.

Ashkenazi's briefing was seen as a partial rebuke of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's repeated assertions that Israel's war against Hizballah last summer managed to fundamentally alter regional realities in Israel's favor.

The damaging testimony came just one day before the Winograd Committee was scheduled to publish its interim findings calling into question Olmert's effectiveness as a wartime leader.

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