Hizballah takeover of Lebanon may benefit Israel

Monday, May 12, 2008 |  by Staff Writer

Former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak on Monday noted a full Hizballah takeover in Lebanon could play into Israel's hands.

Speaking to Army Radio, Lipkin-Shahak explained that "if an armed conflict erupts it will be simpler to strike Lebanon when Hezbollah is the legitimate ruler."

Pointing to Iran's growing involvement in the area, Israeli military officials have been warning for over a year that renewed conflict with Lebanon and probably Syria is a matter of when, not if.

Israel was severely restricted in its last war against Hizballah as it did everything possible to avoid hitting parts of the country ostensibly under the control of the Western-backed central government.

Late last week, Hizballah forces marched into Beirut, effectively exerting control over the western half of the city. The group withdrew its forces three days later, but not before extracting heavy concessions from the government. Fighting has continued in other parts of the country, claiming at least 85 lives over the past week.

Hizballah's show of military might in Beirut and its ability to violently blackmail the government prompted Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon to declare on Sunday that Lebanon had become a "Hizballah state," and that it was an illusion to continue speaking of an alternative authority.

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