Lebanon: Army will deal with those who break ceasefire

Comments meant to intimidate fringe guerilla groups; Saniora: Israeli bombing is "crime against humanity."

Saniora 224.88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
Saniora 224.88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Lebanon's defense minister said Sunday any group breaking the cease-fire in southern Lebanon would be "decisively dealt with" and would be considered a traitor. Defense Minister Elias Murr's comments apparently were to air concerns that factions other than Hizbullah, which he said is committed to the cease-fire, may attempt to draw Israeli retaliation by firing on the Jewish state. "We consider that when the resistance (Hizbullah) is committed not to fire rockets, then any rocket that is fired from the Lebanese territory would be considered collaboration with Israel to provide a pretext (to Israel) to strike," he told a news conference at the Defense Ministry. In the past, Palestinian radical guerrilla groups backed by Syria have fired rockets on Israel, but on a much smaller scale than the Hizbullah barrage during the 34-day war. The Lebanese government, while supporting the Shiite Muslim Lebanese Hizbullah group, has rejected Palestinian attacks on Israel from Lebanon, which in the past invited two invasions. Lebanese troops have also thwarted a number of attempts to fire rockets on Israel by what authorities suspected were Palestinian guerrillas. "The resistance (Hizbullah) is abiding (by the cease-fire), so any violation is in the interest of Israel and the Lebanese army will decisively deal with it," he said. Anyone arrested for violating the truce "will be considered by the military tribunal as an agent of the Israeli enemy and not just as a person who uses a weapon." Earlier in the day, Lebanese Prime Minister also met with reporters to discuss the conflict. Standing in the midst of the rubble of south Beirut on Sunday, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora declared the Israeli bombing campaign "a crime against humanity." Saniora was surrounded by a mob of reporters and television cameras and accompanied by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, a Hizbullah backer. "What we see today is an image of the crimes Israel has committed ... there is no other description other than a criminal act that shows Israel's hatred to destroy Lebanon and its unity," he told reporters on a tour to south Beirut, which bore the brunt of the Israeli airstrikes that leveled neighborhoods. "I hope the international media transmits this picture to every person in the world so that it shows this criminal act, this crime against humanity that Israel has committed in this area and every region of Lebanon," the Western-backed prime minister added.