Lebanon's Army Chief Urges 'Full Readiness' on Israeli Border, Citing 'Enemy's Threats'

The head of Lebanon's army says troops ready to 'preserve stability' against Israeli 'violations'; Israeli official calls threat 'nonsense'

FILE PHOTO: Then-Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, third right, listens to Lebanese Army Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun, second right, during a visit to Ras Baalbek, Lebanon, Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.
FILE PHOTO: Then-Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, third right, listens to Lebanese Army Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun, second right, during a visit to Ras Baalbek, Lebanon, Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017. Uncredited/AP

Lebanon's army chief urged "full readiness" at the southern border to face the "threats of the Israeli enemy and its violations," the army said in a tweet on Tuesday.

To really understand the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz

Army Commander General Joseph Aoun called on soldiers to be ever vigilant for the "good implementation" of the UN resolution 1701 to "preserve stability" at the border with Israel.

An Israeli official dismissed as "nonsense" the possibility of Israeli aggression along the border with Lebanon.

The Lebanese army is responsible for security on its side of the border under the resolution, which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah.

On Monday, Lebanese President Michel Aoun and Hezbollah both said that Lebanon still faces threats from Israel, with Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah claiming his group was the country's main defense against Jerusalem.

Nasrallah even claimed that his group's arsenal of weapons was a force of "security and stability" in Lebanon in the face of these threats. He also said his group "transferred arms, including Kornet missiles, to Gaza," referring to a Russian-made anti-tank missile. He added that recent Israeli comments indicate ties that country's ties with Saudi Arabia.

"There is pressure on Palestinian to accept dictates that will kill the Palestinian issue under what some are calling the 'deal of the century,'" Nasrallah said, in reference to efforts to tie U.S. President Donald Trump's peace initiative to regional processes.

"There are Arab countries that want to forge ties with Israel – namely Saudi Arabia. The interview by [the head of the Israeli army Gadi] Eisenkot to the Saudi website Elaph is a dangerous development for the Palestinians."

>> When Jerusalem needs to talk to Riyadh: This Saudi newspaper is Israel's backchannel to the Arab world >>

Nasrallah's comments came hours after Aoun said that "Israeli targeting still continues and it is the right of the Lebanese to resist it and foil its plans by all available means."

Aoun's statement came after he met with Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit in Beirut, following the Arab League announcement yesterday that designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

"Lebanon has dealt with attacks from 1978 to 2006, and has succeeded in liberating its territory," Aoun added.

Nasrallah also responded to the Arab League, saying that "we have never transferred long-range missiles to any Arab state, but we did transfer arms to the forces of resistance in Gaza Strip and to fighters in Syria."

Aoun said that Lebanon is not responsible for regional power struggles, and that it's unacceptable that his conutry's stability and security are harmed because of them. Aboul Gheit responded, saying that it is not the Arab League's intention to harm Lebanon, and that the Arab League understands the complexities the former faces.

>> Opinion // While America's AWOL on coordinating anti-Iran allies, Saudi Arabia is taking over >>

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that he spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron, who updated him regarding his conversation with Hariri.

The Israeli premier clarified to Macron Israel's interests regarding Lebanon, the first of which are Lebanese-based threats against Israel, including Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah.

Netanyahu added that he agreed with Macron to meet in Paris in early December in order to work together on issues like the situation in Lebanon as well as the Iranian nuclear deal.

Nasrallah said a week and a half ago that Saudi Arabia is inciting Israel to attack Lebanon and that the Jewish state should not take advantage of Lebanon's situation. He added that Israel only acts in accordance with its own interests as well as those of the U.S, and as such is unlikely to initiate a conflict with Lebanon.