Israel Says Syria
Giving Hezbollah Free Rein
By Daniel Sobelman
Ha'aretz Daily

Israel believes that Syrian President Bashar Assad has been ignoring Jerusalem's warnings concerning the ongoing activities of Hezbollah on the northern border.
Well-informed sources claim that Assad - who, they say, is also disregarding U.S. warnings on the matter - seems to have changed his attitude toward Hezbollah's operations against Israel, presumably on the assumption that Israel is not interested in opening a second front along the northern border, and is in no hurry to intervene in the activities of the Shi'ite Muslim organization in Lebanon.
The assessments of the Israeli sources are based on recently-accumulated information and are causing concern with regard to a possible escalation on the Israel-Lebanon border.
Following the events of September 11, Israel confirmed that Assad was taking steps to rein in Hezbollah in an effort to ward off U.S. action against Syria in the framework of the war against terror. Recently, sources in the know said Assad had taken action to put an end to arms shipments from Tehran to Lebanon, via Damascus, and that Hezbollah had taken to using alternative routes.
The sources say Hezbollah wants to drag Israel into a confrontation along the northern border and that the organization intends to respond harshly in the event that Israel carries out strikes against Syrian or Lebanese targets.
Amos Harel adds: At this stage, all the Israel Defense Forces reserve units that have been called up recently have been slated for operations in the territories. The IDF is, however, readying for the possibility of a flare-up along the northern border.
Senior reserve officers were called in yesterday to the Northern Command to discuss and make preparations for a scenario in which Hezbollah would try to cause a deterioration in the situation along the border with Lebanon. The command is preparing for a massive Hezbollah attack on Israel within the next day or two.
"Israel is close to the moment at which it will say `enough is enough' with regard to the north," a security source said yesterday. "We are very concerned about the preparations being made there in anticipation of attacks against us. Syria is chiefly responsible for this and Israel is likely to respond with a strong strike against Syrian interests in Lebanon if it is attacked again."

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