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Israel Warns Hezbollah Against Any Spillover of Violence from Lebanese Crisis

Israeli soldiers on patrol along the Israel-Lebanon border, near Yiftah in the upper Galilee region, 13 Jan 2011

As Lebanon's political crisis deepens, Israel is warning the militant Islamist group Hezbollah against any spillover of violence.

Israel has been closely following events in Lebanon after Wednesday's collapse of the Lebanese government threatened a new outbreak of violence by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah Shi'ite group.

Israeli military officials did not confirm reports that troops along Israel's northern border with Lebanon had been put on heightened alert. Officials say they are closely monitoring the border.

Israel says it is treating the Lebanese crisis as an internal Lebanese affair. However, Uzi Landau, a member of Prime Minister Binjamin Netanyahu's cabinet, spoke on Israeli radio Thursday and warned that Israel is prepared to hit hard if Hezbollah strikes at Israeli interests.

He said that what Israel needs to do now is tell the Lebanese a simple thing: that Israel, he said, is prepared, the minute it is attacked, to not only react but seek what he said would be a complete victory. The minister said Israel will exact a proportional price from any terrorist activity that harms Israelis.

Israel fought a month-long war against Hezbollah in 2006 that devastated much of southern Lebanon, where the group is based. The war resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,200 Lebanese civilians and hundreds of Hezbollah fighters. On the Israeli side, 119 soldiers died along with 43 Israeli civilians.

The border between Israel and Lebanon has been largely quiet since the war.

Some in Israel now are concerned that incitement by Iran - which on Thursday blamed the Jewish State and the U.S. for the collapse of the Lebanese government - might prompt Hezbollah elements to attack Israel.

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