Lebanese Officials Deny Responsibility for Rockets Hitting Israel

As the war in Gaza drags on, Lebanon says it knew nothing about a rocket barrage into Israel.

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By Larry Derfner, Mideast Watch

Amid fears of a second front opening in the Israeli-Gazan war, Lebanese officials pleaded ignorance about this morning's rocket barrage from Lebanon over the border into Israel, which caused a few minor injuries and drew a burst of return mortar fire from Israel, as reported in Lebanon's The Daily Star, Qatar's Aal Jazeera, and Dubai's Aal Arabiya.

Raafat Morra, a Hamas official in Lebanon, said Hamas's "principle is not to use any other Arab soil to respond to the occupation," while blaming Israel for provoking the rockets with its actions in Gaza. Lebanese Information Minister Tarek Mitri said Hezbollah, which fought a ferocious war with Israel in the summer of 2006, was not responsible for the morning salvo, adding that he didn't know who was.

Prior to the rocket exchange, Mitri was downplaying the possibility that Hezbollah might open a second front against Israel. The Daily Star reports:

Information Minister Tarek Mitri said that all factions in Lebanon's governing coalition, including Hizbullah, were keen not to get dragged into another conflict with Israel, "at least for now."

"We have not received from Hizbullah any sign that they will risk dragging Lebanon into this conflict," he said as Israel's deadly onslaught against Gaza entered its 10th day.

Moderate Arab regimes blamed for weakness
Meanwhile, popular resentment over Israeli attacks in Gaza focused on moderate Arab regimes, especially Egypt, which is seen as doing the bidding of Israel and the United States against the interests of the Palestinians. Egypt's Daily News editorializes:

More poignantly than ever the belief in Egypt's, and indeed all Arab States' sovereignty has come crashing down and nothing will ever restore it for the masses of Egyptians.

This has left the field open for radical Muslim leaders like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to criticize the pan-Arab response and that of the United Nations to the war. Al Jazeera reports on a speech in Iran by Ahmadinejad:

"Aren't these oppressed Palestinians Arabs? So, when should the capacity of the Arab League be used? The Arab League should act quickly," he said.

The Iranian leader also criticised the United Nations' response to the assault on Gaza.

"To which nations does this UN belong? This security council is for the security of which part of the world?" he said.

Saudi Arabia rules out using oil as a weapon
Despite the growing anger among Arab publics over the war in Gaza, Saudi Arabia has ruled out using its oil supplies as leverage to secure an end to the Israeli assault, as the Saudi Gazette highlights. The message was delivered by Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal during a visit to the United Nations in New York:

"Oil is not a weapon. You can't reverse a conflict by using oil," Saud Al-Faisal, Foreign Minister, told reporters here on the sidelines of a Security Council debate on the Israeli offensive which has claimed 689 Palestinian lives.Prince Saud expressed support for a Libyan draft resolution that would demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and said it should be put to a vote in the Security Council later Wednesday or Thursday."It is the responsibility of the Security Council to help to end any conflict as soon as it arises. And the current conflict in Gaza should be no exception," he noted."If the Security Council takes no action . . . that certainly raises questions about its credibility."