WASHINGTON – The distinction between the Lebanese Army and Hizbullah has become
“cloudy” and advanced weaponry given to the Lebanese military could find its way
to the Islamist group, Ambassador to the US Michael Oren warned on
But Oren, when asked on a conference call whether the US had
any plans to stop providing arms and assistance to the Lebanese Army, said
“there’s no indication yet” of that happening.
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Earlier on Wednesday, US
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley defended American assistance to the
Lebanese military despite its shooting of two IDF officers, killing one and
seriously wounding the other, as they cut down a tree along the northern border
on Tuesday. The IDF returned fire and killed two Lebanese soldiers and a
“I don’t think this fundamentally changes the support that
we’re providing to the government of Lebanon,” he said.
“We are committed
to Israel’s security, but we’re also committed to Lebanese
These interests are not mutually exclusive. They’re not in
He added, “Unfortunately, from time to time, you have
these flashpoints. But it doesn’t change our long-term strategic
interest in the
Asked about reports that the Lebanese snipers used American-
issued guns to shoot at the IDF, Crowley said he couldn’t confirm the
but noted, “We have provided support to Lebanon to strengthen the
ability of the
Lebanese government to exercise its own sovereignty. This is in our
We certainly do not want to see the kind of exchanges of fire
that occurred yesterday.”
A desire to avoid a recurrence is also getting
the attention of Capitol Hill, where some legislators are taking a
at US military aid to Lebanon.
Rep. Ron Klein (D-Florida) told The
on Wednesday, “It certainly is going to come up in
conversations in the Congress about the continued support of the
Army.”US has boosted military aid to Lebanon in recent years
The US has boosted military assistance to Lebanon in recent years
as it has sought to bolster the parts of Beirut’s governing coalition
step with the West. Though the Lebanese Army and Hizbullah have
been in different camps, Hizbullah has exercised increasing influence
country’s political institutions and power structures.
About $100 million
in military assistance, plus smaller amounts for counter-narcotics and
counter-terrorism operations and training, is being considered,
the amount allocated last year.
Klein and other Capitol Hill sources said
the degree to which the Lebanese attack was sanctioned by army and
higher-ups and how those officials responded would inform the view
takes on assistance being considered for next year.
though, that the problematic behavior of the Lebanese Army extended
He said that the Lebanese military has aimed
shoulder-fired rockets at Israeli installations and permitted its
stone patrolling Israeli soldiers in recent incidents.
increasing ties between Lebanese military officials and Hizbullah
“Israel tends to view the distinction between the Lebanese Army
and Hizbullah as increasingly cloudy,” he said on the conference call
the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for
Affairs. “The Lebanese Army shares all its intelligence with Hizbullah.
are highranking officers in the Lebanese Army who are closely associated
He continued, “Our assumption is that particularly advanced
weaponry in the hands of the Lebanese Army could very well find its way
arsenals of Hizbullah.”
In the case of an outbreak of full hostilities
between Israel and Hizbullah, Oren concluded, “The Lebanese Army has
its lot with Hizbullah in any future conflict with Israel.”
And on Thursday, Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) called the Lebanese Army's
actions "troubling and problematic." Like Klein, Towns was on a
Congressional trip to Israel and was briefed by Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu on the violence along the border.
Towns, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government
Reform, said the committee's oversight authority can be used "to ensure
that United States assistance does not go to states and entities that
are hostile to Israel."