by Tova Dvorin
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held Lebanon responsible for the rocket fire on northern Israel Sunday, and called on the Lebanese government to stop a "double war crime" against civilians - in Israel and on its own soil.
"We hold the Lebanese government responsible for firing that is carried out from within its territory," Netanyahu stated, at the beginning of his weekly Cabinet meeting. "What is happening in Lebanon is that Hezbollah is stationing thousands of missiles and rockets in apartments, in the heart of the civilian population, and is thus perpetrating two war crimes simultaneously. It is organizing the firing at civilians, just as it did today, and it is hiding behind civilians as human shields."
"This is a double war crime that that is being perpetrated under the aegis of the Lebanese government and army," he continued, "which are not lifting a finger to prevent this arming and these crimes. We hold the Lebanese government responsible for this development."
Netanyahu's remarks appear to confirm rumors earlier Sunday by Lebanese media sources that the rocket fire had been perpetrated by Hezbollah terrorists. Israeli media reports suggested that Sunni pro-Palestinian groups in Lebanon were behind the rockets, but those reports remained unconfirmed.
Netanyahu praised the IDF's response to the rocket fire, echoing similar statements by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon. "Today, the IDF responded quickly and forcefully to the rocket fire from Lebanon. This is our policy regarding Lebanon just as it is with the Gaza Strip. We will not allow a drizzle and we will respond strongly, and if need be, will carry out preventive action."
Earlier this month, tensions rose between Israel and Lebanon after a Lebanese army soldier shot and killed 31 year-old IDF Master Sergeant Shlomi Cohen. The attacker eventually turned himself in to Lebanese authorities, and will be placed on trial there over the incident, according to Yaalon.
The Prime Minister also linked the attacks to Iran, which has been alleged to be arming Hezbollah via Iraq. "We also know that Iran, of course, is behind this arming by Hezbollah. It is the same Iran which is continuing to assist the Syrian government in slaughtering civilians and which is continuing to arm terrorist organizations that are perpetrating acts of terrorism in many countries. It is also the same Iran that is currently developing centrifuges that are capable of enriching uranium six times faster than its regular centrifuges."
Netanyahu warned that the enabling of Iran via Lebanon could lead to a dangerous situation in the Middle East, aided by the false security of the interim deal between Western powers and the Islamic Republic.
"All of this is being done now, before the agreement is written. Even before the agreement is signed I see that the Iranian economy is recovering somewhat. We are monitoring these developments and are pointing them out to the world. We continue to see preventing the nuclearization [sic] of Iran as our main goal vis-à-vis the national security of the State of Israel, as well as the security of the region and the entire world," he concluded.