Lebanon's defense minister said Sunday he is certain Hezbollah will not break the cease-fire but warned all militant groups of harsh measures and a traitor's fate if they incite Israeli retaliation by firing rockets into the Jewish state.
Defense Minister Elias Murr's strong remarks indicated concern that Syrian-backed Palestinian militants might try to restart the fighting by drawing retaliation from Israel.
Prime Minister Fuad Saniora, meanwhile, toured the devastated Hezbollah stronghold in south Beirut and decried the destruction by Israeli bombs as a "crime against humanity." Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, a Shiite and Hezbollah backer, stood at the Sunni premier's side and said they spoke with one voice, the AP reports.
The UN ceasefire resolution calls for the deployment of about 30,000 soldiers to southern Lebanon to ensure a lasting truce. Half of those soldiers will come from the Lebanese army, and the other half will be an international contingent of UN peacekeepers.
The first UN troops arrived Saturday from France, with more expected throughout the week, to help 2,000 UN peacekeepers already in the region, ctv.ca says.
Israel on Sunday objected to including countries that do not have diplomatic relations with the Jewish state in the nascent peacekeeping force for Lebanon, even as a U.N. envoy said the Lebanese army had fielded only 3,000 troops, about one-fifth of the force it plans to enforce the cease-fire in the south.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert raised his opposition to the participation of such countries at a cabinet meeting, a government official said. The list would include the Muslim countries of Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh, which are among the few nations that have pledged troops to the international force that is supposed to work with the Lebanese army to enforce the truce put in place after the five-week war, the Washington Post reports.
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik