Israel accused of phone threats to Lebanese

Lebanon's telecommunications minister Gibran Bassil (photo) has claimed that hundreds of Lebanese citizens have received calls from Israeli authorities urging them to abandon Hezbollah or risk facing another war.


Lebanon's new telecommunications minister on Thursday accused Israel of bombarding Lebanese people with threatening phone calls, a day after a controversial prisoner swap between Israel and Hezbollah.

"Hundreds of people throughout Lebanon received threatening phone calls on their landlines from Israel," Gibran Bassil said.

"The phone would ring, the person would answer and they would hear a message saying, 'This is from the state of Israel. Abandon Hezbollah or there will be another war, like there was in 2006,'" he said.

Bassil, a member of the Free Patriotic Movement, the main Christian party in the Syrian-backed opposition, said he has written a letter of protest to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

"We consider this to be a clear violation of UN Security Council resolution 1701," Bassil said, referring to the resolution which ended the devastating 34-day war in 2006 between Israel and Hezbollah.

Israel's defence ministry declined to comment on the claims.

However, an official said that Israel uses "all sorts of methods to weaken Hezbollah" and that it was was engaged in "intelligence and electronic warfare" against the militia.

Many Lebanese had received similar phone messages urging them not to support Hezbollah during the course of the war which killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

The news comes a day after the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, whose capture on July 12, 2006 in a cross-border raid sparked the war, were exchanged for five Lebanese prisoners and the remains of almost 200 Lebanese and Palestinian fighters.

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