RAMALLAH, August 9 (JMCC) - Lebanese officials have denied charges that its military is unduly influenced by Hezbollah, considered a terrorist group by Israel and the United States, reports The National.
“The decision to open fire on the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] was taken by an experienced platoon commander who was not only acting within his authority as the senior officer on the scene, but he was following long-standing orders to defend Lebanese territory,” said a senior official in Lebanese military intelligence with extensive experience working alongside both Hizbollah and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil).
“The officer had no reason to even call his superiors, let alone inform Hizbollah,” the official said, indicating that the Lebanese army has grown tired of repeated Israeli violations of Lebanese territory and the perception internationally that it is subservient to Hizbollah and requires protection from Israel, from the militants and Unifil. Israeli forces and aeroplanes regularly enter Lebanese territory under the guise of intelligence collection.
“It was going to happen eventually because of these violations,” the officer said, adding: “Why last Tuesday? Maybe it was really hot and people are just tired of being ignored. But it was his – and our – right to defend Lebanon.”
Another source close to the Lebanese military leadership said the incident sent a double message, not just to Israel’s military but also to Hizbollah, that the Lebanese army is the nation’s military force and will protect its borders. Otherwise, he said, “they’re just traffic cops”.