Lebanese rebuke Hezbollah for dragging country into clash
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Lebanese rebuke Hezbollah for dragging country into clash

Leaders accuse Shiite group of serving Israel's political needs after strike on military convoy

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

A Lebanese army soldier uses his binoculars as smoke from Israeli shelling covers the Lebanese town of Al-Majidiyah on the Lebanese border with Israel in the Wazzani area on January 28, 2015.  Hezbollah claimed responsibility on Wednesday for an attack against an IDF convoy near the Lebanon border. Photo credit: AFP/ ALI DIA)
A Lebanese army soldier uses his binoculars as smoke from Israeli shelling covers the Lebanese town of Al-Majidiyah on the Lebanese border with Israel in the Wazzani area on January 28, 2015. Hezbollah claimed responsibility on Wednesday for an attack against an IDF convoy near the Lebanon border. Photo credit: AFP/ ALI DIA)

Senior Lebanese politicians criticized Shiite terror group Hezbollah for attacking an Israeli military convoy Wednesday morning, warning it could bring a harsh Israeli response against Lebanon.

Former president Michel Sleiman said Beirut should avoid being dragged into the conflict, which he said was only being waged to score points for Israel’s ruling Likud party ahead of parliamentary elections.

“Where is Lebanon’s interest in being dragged into a war that Israel needs? Netanyahu, for domestic electoral reasons and due to his clear alliance with US President Barack Obama, is trying to cause Lebanon to violate [UN Security Council Resolution] 1701 and initiate battles from which Israel stands to gain,” he wrote on Facebook.

Hezbollah’s attack on an Israeli patrol in the northern Mount Dov region along the border came amid a deep political crisis in Lebanon.

Caretaker Prime Minister Tammam Salam bemoaned the political stalemate preventing Lebanese national elections in an interview with Al-Akhbar daily Wednesday, as his term in office nears the one year mark in February. Disagreements between Hezbollah and Saad Hariri’s March 14 Alliance have left the country without a president for the past seven months.

He also accused Israel of sparking a “dangerous escalation.”

“Israel’s escalation can be an opening to dangerous situations which do not serve peace and stability in the region,” he said. “Lebanon keeps to UN Resolution 1701 and calls on the international community to stop any Israeli aspirations to gamble on the security of the region.”

Walid Jumblatt, the political leader of Lebanon's minority Druse sect, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press, as he sits in his garden house, in Beirut, Lebanon, on May 28, 2014. (photo credit: AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
Walid Jumblatt, the political leader of Lebanon’s minority Druze sect, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press, as he sits in his garden house, in Beirut, Lebanon, on May 28, 2014. (photo credit: AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Druze leader Walid Jumblatt shared Sleiman’s view that the Israeli attack on a Hezbollah-Iranian convoy near the Syrian city of Quneitra last week was part of Netanyahu’s election campaign, opining that Hezbollah’s response to “the Israeli madness” was “to be expected.”

“Given this, we must take the proper precautions in case Israel attacks Lebanon,” Jumblatt wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Christian leader Samir Geagea, head of the Lebanese Forces party, lambasted Hezbollah at a press conference in the city of Maarab, accusing the Shiite party of involving the Lebanese people in a confrontation they do not want with Israel.

“What happened today on the border between Lebanon and the Palestinian territories (sic) will have very serious repercussions on the entire Lebanese people,” Geagea was quoted by his party website as saying. “How can Hezbollah allow itself to take military decisions which the Lebanese do not agree to and which may have huge ramifications on Lebanon, while at the same time negotiating with [Hariri’s] Future Movement?”

Pro-Hezbollah daily As-Safir accused Geagea of breaking the national consensus around the “resistance” (Hezbollah) and reported celebratory fire Wednesday in Beirut’s southern suburbs, a Hezbollah stronghold. The newspaper said that the Lebanese Red Cross has raised its level of readiness across the south in preparation for a possible Israeli strike.

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