Israel's military chief said Tuesday that Israel plans to
withdraw all remaining troops from Lebanon by this weekend, meeting
a key requirement of a cease-fire that ended its recent 34-day war
against Hezbollah guerrillas.
The withdrawal would end a more than two-month troop presence in
Lebanon, and complete the transfer of security responsibilities
along the border to the Lebanese army and a beefed-up UN
Israel invaded Lebanon on July 12 after Hezbollah guerrillas
crossed the border and killed three Israeli soldiers and kidnapped
Since the August 14 cease-fire went into effect, Israel has
slowly been withdrawing troops. But it has said it would not
complete the pullout until the peacekeeping force was strong enough
to secure the border and prevent Hezbollah from rearming.
Israel's army chief, Lieutenant General Dan Halutz, told a
closed meeting of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Defence
Committee that all remaining troops would leave by the start of the
Jewish New Year at sundown on Friday, committee member Ran Cohen
"He told me that this afternoon there is a meeting between the
Lebanese forces and the UN forces and, if everything is OK, then
all Israeli soldiers will be out of Lebanon by the eve of the
holiday, on Friday," Cohen said.
Under the UN-brokered cease-fire, a 15,000-strong UN force is to
deploy in the south to maintain the truce and assist the Lebanese
army in re-establishing control over Hezbollah's southern
About 5,000 international troops already have been deployed in
south Lebanon, along with 9,000 Lebanese troops.
Some 150 French troops and dozens of military vehicles left
Beirut Tuesday for south Lebanon to reinforce the peacekeeping
mission. France is contributing the second-largest contingent of
2,000 soldiers and will command the UN force until early next year,
when Italy is to take over.
On Monday, Premier Wen Jiabao confirmed that China would
increase its UN peacekeeping presence in Lebanon to 1,000
When the fighting ended on August 14, Israeli soldiers were
present in a strip of land along the length of the Lebanon-Israel
border and in a corridor of territory leading north almost to the
Litani River, 30 kilometers away.
Military officials declined to say how many Israeli troops
remain. Cohen estimated the figure at several thousand. The troops
are believed to be concentrated in three points along the
(China Daily September 20, 2006)