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Israeli media warn of escalating conflict

Retaliation from Hezbollah expected since restraint ‘could be considered weakness’

Gulf News

Occupied Jerusalem: Israeli media on Friday warned that an alleged air strike on a convoy carrying arms from Syria to Lebanon’s Hezbollah could set off a chain reaction, and reported that troops were on high alert in the country’s north.

“Complete restraint over the long term to Israel’s actions could be considered weakness by Hezbollah, so we should expect some form of response, even if not immediately and not necessarily a broad rocket and missile attack on Israel,” defense commentator Amos Harel wrote in the Haaretz daily.

“The Hezbollah convoy, which according to foreign reports was attacked from the air while traveling from Syria to the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, laden with explosives, will not be the last,” Nahum Barnea wrote in Yediot Aharonot. “It would seem, from a pessimistic view, that we are on the way to a military confrontation on at least one of the two northern fronts,” he added, referring to Israel’s boundaries with Syrian and Lebanon.

The top-selling paper’s front page said that the army’s northern command had declared a state of high alert, but the military spokesman’s office refused to confirm or deny this when asked by AFP.

Israel has raised the alarm over long-range Scud missiles or other advanced weaponry, such as anti-aircraft systems and surface-to-surface missiles, being transferred to Hezbollah.

“Efforts to transfer advanced weaponry to Hezbollah will continue, and will even accelerate as president Bashar Al Assad’s regime continues to erode,” wrote Israel Hayom, a free sheet considered close to prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“On the assumption that Israel will know of this and will take action in the future, domestic pressure will mount in Syria and in Lebanon to respond, and this is liable to set the northern border on fire at any moment.”