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Weapons Spreading Through Lebanon, Risking Escalation

Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam condemned the latest armed clashes to erupt on the streets of Beirut as increasing numbers of factions and individuals get their hands on weapons, threatening the stability of country and trying to drag Israel into the regional conflict.

There is little or no central security control, according to The Israel Project’s defense analyst, Major (res.) Stephane Cohen.

The problem in Lebanon is that so many groups have weapons – Alawites, Sunnis, Christians, Shiites and Palestinians – and no official Lebanese authority has the monopoly over security and force.

Even though there is a United Nations force in the south, the last few months have shown there are weapons in southern Lebanon and many hostile elements are firing rockets into Israel,  aiming at civilians to try to drag Israel into the conflict in Lebanon and Syria.

Beirut’s residents awoke to the sounds of gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades on March 23 from the southern edges of the city.

Gun battles claimed the lives of some 30 people in the northern city Tripoli over the last few days, including a 12-year-old boy on March 22. The widespread use of arms is not only affecting Lebanon but there is an apparent effort to pull Israel into combat. Terrorists detonated a device on the Israel-Lebanon border targeting Israeli soldiers on March 14.

The spread of weapons is in direct contravention of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, which was approved at the end of the 2006 fighting between Hezbollah and Israel.

there will be no weapons without the consent of the Government of Lebanon and no authority other than that of the Government of Lebanon…

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is slated to make a major policy speech on March 29 in which he will address the policy framework of the new government. A final document has yet to be approved by the cabinet that includes pro-Western and Iranian-backed parties. Nasrallah will offer his organization’s thoughts on whether “resistance” – the byword for attacking Israel – should be in the hands of the Lebanese army or people.

For an in-depth look at the dramatic expansion of Hezbollah’s own armaments in recent months, see The Tower Magazine’s March 2014 issue.

[Photo: Israel Defense Forces / flickr08]