Israeli army heightens its alert along border with Lebanon

The Israeli army has heightened its alert along Israel's northern border with Lebanon, an army spokesperson said Monday.

The military declined to elaborate, but Israeli Army radio cited intelligence reports that Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrilla group was planning to kidnap soldiers or fire at Israeli military installations along the border. Israel and Hezbollah, which fought Israel's 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon, sometimes fight cross-border battles near a disputed piece of territory. Israel ended its occupation of southern Lebanon in May 2000.

Senior Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad said chances of a Hezbollah offensive were higher at the moment because of the Jewish Purim holiday starting Monday night, general elections in two weeks and possibly the interests of Hezbollah patron, Iran, subject of a United Nations Security Council debate over its nuclear program, scheduled for Monday.

"It could be to serve Iran by diverting attention from the growing international pressure," Gilad told the radio, reports the AP.

I.L.