Israel gets message of restraint from Hezbollah

Jerusalem, Jan 29 (IANS) Israel’s Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon Thursday said he received a message of restraint from the Lebanese Shia militant organisation Hezbollah through the UN, a day after a deadly attack claimed the lives of two Israeli soldiers.

Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon told Army Radio Thursday morning that he had received a message via the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil) stationed in the Israel-Lebanon border, that Hezbollah was not interested in further escalating the situation, Xinhua news agency reported.
“Indeed, a message has been received. We have channels of coordination between us and Lebanon through Unifil and indeed such a message has been received,” Ya’alon said.
The international peacekeeping force has been deployed along the border following the 2006 war between the countries.
A Spanish Unifil soldier was killed Wednesday from artillery fire the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) launched into southern Lebanon following Wednesday’s attack.
Both Israel’s borders with Syria and Lebanon remained quiet early Thursday, after a week of escalation of tension until now relatively quiet fronts.
Two Israeli soldiers were killed and seven others were injured Wednesday as anti-tank missiles were fired at their vehicle patrolling the border near Mount Dov from southern Lebanon. Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the attack.
A day earlier, four rockets were launched from Syria to the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights territories, without causing injuries to anyone.
The two attacks came 10 days after an alleged Israel airstrike in Syria killed a commander of the Hezbollah and an Iranian general, along with other operatives. Israel did not acknowledge responsibility for the attack.
Also Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran for being behind Wednesday’s attack.
“Iran is the one behind the attack from Lebanon yesterday,” Netanyahu said at a memorial ceremony for former prime minister Ariel Sharon, who died last year.
“This is the same Iran which is attempting to reach an agreement with the world nations, which would leave in its power to develop nuclear weapons, and we are vehemently against that agreement,” Netanyahu said, according to a statement from his office.
“We will keep defending ourselves from any threat, near or far,” he added.
On Wednesday, prior to a security assessment meeting with defence officials in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu said “for some time, Iran, via Hezbollah, has been trying to establish an additional terrorist front against us from the Golan Heights”, referring to the Israeli-Syrian border.
Netanyahu is a hardliner when it comes to Iran, which he says is an “existential threat” to Israel.
He had reiterated his opinion amid the ongoing attempts by the P5+1 countries – the US, Britain, China, France, Russia plus Germany — to reach a final agreement with Iran over its nuclear programme, which Tehran claims is for peaceful purposes.
The Israeli prime minister is scheduled to speak in front of the US Congress about the Iranian nuclear plan March 3, following an invitation by House Speaker John Boehner from the Republican Party, two weeks before the Israeli national elections.
Netanyahu is calling to impose more sanctions on Iran and not let it maintain any uranium enrichment capabilities. His upcoming speech has caused a rift with US President Barack Obama, who asked Congress to delay the proposal to impose further sanctions on Iran and allow the negotiations to continue.