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UN ruling on Shaba farms undercuts Hizbullah claims (JERUSALEM POST) By DAVID RUDGE 01/31/05)Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1107055730408 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
The determination by the UN Security Council that the Shaba farms district is Syrian and not Lebanese land totally negates the pretext that Hizbullah has been using for continuing its terror attacks against Israel, senior security sources told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

The sources said that the declaration also reiterated that Israel had fully complied with UN Security Council Resolution 425 when it withdrew from south Lebanon in May 2000.

"Hizbullah no longer has a valid excuse but this is unlikely to stop this terrorist organization from continuing its provocations in the Mount Dov region under the pretext that it is trying to liberate Lebanese land," a senior source told the Post.

"Hizbullah has the full backing of Iran, which is its mentor, financier and military arms supplier, as well as the support of Syria that continues to control Lebanon through the Lebanese government, so it is unlikely to stop what it has been doing until now.

"The Shaba farms area was always seen as Syrian land by its inhabitants and in the region generally until Hizbullah, with the backing of the Syrian-controlled Lebanese government and Iran, decided otherwise.

"The UN Security Council declaration undermines Hizbullah´s claim to be the freedom fighting liberation organization that it portrays itself to be. It is, in fact, a terrorist organization operating illegally from Lebanese territory," said the source.

Analysts noted that without its claim to be fighting for the liberation of Lebanese land, the justification for the continued existence of Hizbullah´s military arm in a country where all other militias have been disbanded would cease to exist.

The UN determination regarding the so-called disputed Shaba farms district coincided with its decision to extend by a further six months the mandate of its Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which has been a presence on the ground following the Litani Operation in 1978.

The UN decision, accompanied by sharp criticism of the Lebanese government for failing to deploy its forces in the south, also coincided with the first anniversary of the prisoners´ exchange with Hizbullah.

As part of the deal, Israel freed some 30 Arab nationals and 400 Palestinians and returned the bodies of some 60 Lebanese in exchange for the release of Elhanan Tannenbaum and the return of the bodies of St.-Sgts. Adi Avitan, Benny Avraham and Omar Suwayid.

Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah used the occasion to issue a veiled warning that the organization would use every means, including further kidnappings of Israelis, to secure the release of three remaining Lebanese prisoners.

"Every day the Zionist enemy declares that the leadership of Hizbullah has taken a strategic decision to capture Israeli soldiers... I confirm that all options are open," Nasrallah was quoted as saying during a rally in Beirut on Saturday.

A ceremony was held in Tiberias Sunday night to mark the first anniversary of the return of the bodies of the three soldiers kidnapped by Hizbullah in an ambush on the Israeli side of the UN- delineated withdrawal line in the Mount Dov region in October 2000.

The ceremony was attended by Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya´alon, former deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi, OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Benny Gantz and senior officers from the Engineering Corps, in which the soldiers served. (© 1995-2005, The Jerusalem Post 01/31/05)

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