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Israel Warns Of Hizbullah Revenge Attacks.

Israel on March 21 warned its citizens of what it termed a high risk of being kidnapped when travelling outside the country following the assassination of Hizbullah commander Mughniyeh. "The Counter-Terrorism Bureau warns over kidnappings of Israelis abroad, particularly businessmen and above all those who work with Arabs or Muslims", the agency said on its Website, urging Israelis not to travel abroad in organised tours to avoid being targeted. It added: "It is a high risk", saying the threat would be particularly high after the March 22 conclusion of the traditional 40-day mourning period for Mughniyeh.

The Internet site says: "Hizbullah continues to blame Israel for the death of Mughniyeh, which increases the risk of attacks conducted by Hizbullah on Israeli targets". Gen. Nitzan Nuriel, who heads the Counter-Terrorism Bureau, on March 21 told the Israeli armed forces radio: "Hizbullah would have liked to kidnap or assassinate former Israeli senior military officials, or target a tour group". The mass-circulation Yediot Aharonot daily said Israelis travelling to Cyprus faced particularly high risks of being attacked or kidnapped. Ely Karmon, a senior research scholar at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) at the Herzliya-based Inter-Disciplinary Centre (IDC), on March 20 warned that Hizbullah could be preparing for a spectacular attack against Israel around March 22.

Hizbullah's TV and Websites have derided Israel's worries ahead of a possible major terrorist attack which "keep Israeli political, military, and security officials up nights". Israel has enhanced security at its embassies and put its military on heightened alert. In view of their past behavior, Karmon said, "Hizbullah and Iranian threats must be taken very seriously".

Karmon added that Hizbullah and Iran had three main options: "an attack on northern Israel from South Lebanon, a major terrorist attack inside Israel or a major act of terror against Israeli or Jewish targets abroad". The scholar said: "Hizbullah has rearmed itself with a huge amount of long-range missiles and still has a large clandestine infrastructure in southern Lebanon. Yet the presence of the UNIFIL forces on the ground, the sharp criticism of the organization in the United Nations' latest report on [UNSC] Resolution 1701 and the unsolved Lebanese internal situation could endanger the group's long-range political goals and standing.

"Moreover, Iran is probably not interested in a new conflagration at a time when its nuclear project has a good chance of surviving the latest international sanctions. In case of an attack against Israeli or Jewish targets abroad, based on the example of the two attacks in Buenos Aires (in the 1990s), it would be clear to everybody that this is a Hizbullah or Iran/Hizbullah operation and the political price could be very high. The easiest way for retaliation would be a 'mega-attack' inside Israel or the assassination of a high-level personality by a Palestinian proxy.

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Publication:APS Diplomat News Service
Geographic Code:7ISRA
Date:Mar 24, 2008
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