Lebanon has warned Israel to avoid any military adventure against it, and threatened to conduct retaliatory bombardments if Jerusalem targets strategic Lebanese installations.
During a tour of southern Lebanon, the country’s Defense Minister Elias Bou Saab insisted that he does not believe a war with Israel is possible. He stressed that Lebanon has managed to attain sufficient deterrence that prevents an Israeli-Lebanese conflict from taking place.
According to the Beirut-based al-Manar news agency, Minister Bou Saab attributed much of Lebanon’s power of deterrence to the role of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah organization during the 2006, Second Lebanon war. Despite ruling out a possible conflict between the two neighboring countries, however, the Lebanese Defense Minister levelled a warning against Jerusalem in which he underscored: “If Israel bombards our airport (in Beirut), we will bombard its airport (in Tel Aviv); (And) if it strikes our oil facilities, we will strike its oil facilities.”
Later during the day, Minister Bou Saab – accompanied by the Chief of Staff of the Lebanese Armed Forces, General Joseph Aoun – visited the headquarters of UNIFIL, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, where they were received by UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander, Major General Stefano Del Col of Italy.
In a joint press conference, General Del Col highlighted the importance of cooperation between UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces, which he termed “strategic partners.” In his words: “We are doing a lot of activities with the Lebanese Armed Forces, with our strategic partner. And so, it’s a privilege for me to have the possibility to show what we have done and what we are doing with the Lebanese Armed Forces on the political level.”
General Del Col also emphasized the crucial efforts to enhance the deployment of the Lebanese Armed Forces in the UNIFIL area of operations, as well as steps to ensure the freedom of movement of UNIFIL personnel in the Lebanese-Israeli border-region, under the mandate granted to it, in accordance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701.
The Lebanese Defense Minister, on his part, underscored the magnitude of the border region – which he admitted, ‘did not receive the required attention’ by Lebanese Authorities in recent years. “This area is very important. Those of you who had the chance to see this Lebanese area while we were heading to it have realized how much it is beautiful. We have not given it the required attention, although it is one of the most important areas. We have responsibility to maintain and preserve it. I would like to thank UNIFIL for the effort they have exerted and for their cooperation with the Lebanese Army, because the Lebanese Army is responsible for maintaining security including the south, and the role of UNIFIL is to support the Army in this area. The wish of all the Lebanese is to see their Lebanese Army well enhanced, and to see a protector of Lebanon’s borders, sea and air,” the Lebanese Defense Minister said.
The IDF Spokesperson’s unit refused to comment on TV7’s request for a response regarding the Lebanese Defense Minister’s warning that was levelled toward Israel.