Deputy Defense Minister: Israel making every effort to avoid war
GOC Northern Command Eizenkot: Reports of imminent Lebanon conflict are just 'virtual escalation.'
Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said on Sunday said that while Israel was faced with military threats on all sides, it has strategically chosen to make every effort to avoid entering armed conflict with its enemies.
Vilnai said that Israel had its eyes on Hezbollah, who it believes is rearming in violation of a United Nations resolution, and was ready to contend with any threat,
GOC Northern Command Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot earlier Sunday said there was no truth to reports of imminent conflict between Israel and Lebanon, which he said represented a "virtual escalation" that has no basis in reality.
Eizenkot was referring to remarks made Saturday by Minister without portfolio Yossi Peled, who said that Israel "can't sleep easy" regarding Israel's shared border with Lebanon and also to reports in Arab media that Israel is preparing to launch an attack.
Peled emphasized that "we're in for another round in the north, but I don't know when," with the first round being the 34 days of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006.
Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon on Sunday told the United Nations envoy to Lebanon that Israel viewed the flow of weapons from Iran and Syria to Hezbollah as the greatest threat to the northern border.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Saturday that Israel has no intention of carrying out an offensive against Lebanon, speaking hours after a minister in his cabinet said that a military conflict between Israel and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah was "inevitable."
"The State of Israel is not looking for any kind of confrontation with Lebanon," Netanyahu said in a statement released by his office, adding, "Israel seeks peace with all of its neighbors."
On Sunday, Eizenkot said that Hezbollah has doubled its rocket cache and that should there be a confrontation with the militant group, Israel's response would be "disproportionate." The Israel Defense Forces in recent weeks has been conducting military drills in the north.
"[Hezbollah chief Hassan] Nasrallah would be happy to return to the days prior to July 2006, before the Second Lebanon War, when everything was intact," said Eizenkot, according to Army Radio. "The group hasn't executed an attack since the Second Lebanon War," he added. "But Hezbollah is getting stronger and we are preparing for all options in order to be able to act effectively."