Israel prepares for Hizballah missiles

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 |  by Staff Writer

Israel this week deployed a battery of US-made Patriot air-defense missiles to the northern coastal city of Haifa in anticipation of an attack by Lebanon's Hizballah terrorist militia.

Hizballah has publicly accused Israel of being behind last week's assassination of its co-founder and operational commander Imad Mughniyah in Damascus, and has threatened to respond by hitting the Jewish state and attacking Israelis abroad.

The UN resolution that ended Israel's 2006 war with Hizballah was supposed to have deprived the terror group of the ability to threaten the Jewish state. However, intelligence regularly published since that conflict shows that Hizballah continues to be equipped by Iran and Syria with missiles capable of reaching all of Israel's major population centers.

Israeli officials are now concerned that the beefed-up UN peacekeeping installed in southern Lebanon following the Second Lebanon War is nearing collapse, which would permit Hizballah to again operate openly and freely along Israel's northern border.

An Israeli army official told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that Spain may soon withdraw its troops from the UN peacekeeping force, and would likely be followed by Italy. France and Germany would then likely rethink the level of their participation in the buffer force.

Israel insisted that the UN force be increased to between 10,000-15,000 troops following the war, noting that the original, much smaller force had failed to prevent the cross-border Hizballah raid that sparked the conflict.

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