PM to Hold High-level Consultations Over Hezbollah Bombs on Border

Officials: Talks not to address possibility of peace talks with Syria, only to estimate Hezbollah threat.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will convene high-level consultations Wednesday about the security situation along the northern border after the Israel Defense Forces on Monday discovered five large explosive devices near the Lebanese border, in the vicinity of Moshav Avivim.

The officials are to evaluate the level of threat from Syria and Hezbollah, six months after the end of the fighting in Lebanon. According to officials in Jerusalem, the talks will not address the possibility of renewing peace talks with Syria.

Officers in Northern Command believe the explosives were placed recently by Hezbollah.

Wednesday's meeting will be attended by Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who will hold preparatory consultations on Tuesday, as well as senior IDF and intelligence officials. The latter will provide analyses of the situation in the north, including Hezbollah's efforts to restore its missile launch capabilities since the end of the war, and the armament of the Syrian army.

The IDF has recently begun patrolling the length of the border, including the area north of the border fence but south of the international border recognized by the United Nations, which in some places is about 100 meters from the border fence. When the fence was relaid, after Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, there were places in which it was erected south of the international boundary for topographical reasons.

Over the past two months, IDF patrols have uncovered Hezbollah positions and equipment caches, some of which were apparently used by the forces that kidnapped IDF reserve soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev last July.

An Engineering Corps unit discovered the bombs on Monday about 60 meters north of the border fence. The devices are usually projected at vehicles and may have been intended for use against IDF patrols traveling along the Israeli side of the border.

The IDF soldiers shot at the devices in order to blow them up. Israel reported the incident to the Lebanese Army and to UNIFIL, which carried out searches in the area.

Peretz said that the incident was serious and said the IDF must act against any threat in the north.