Israeli officials said Saturday they regretted the Syrian invasion of the Christian enclave in Lebanon but did not consider it cause for an Israeli move against Syria or Lebanese forces.
Past reports have said Syrian use of air power in Lebanon could lead to an Israeli attack. But Uri Lubrani, Israel's coordinator in Lebanon, said the attack that forced rebel Gen. Michel Aoun to surrender was not enough to force Israel's hand."The Syrians know very well Israel's red lines. It is true that they used planes but . . . this is the use of force in order to do something inside Lebanon," Lubrani said on Israel television.
"We are sticking to the position that anything that doesn't threaten our security . . . doesn't obligate us to make any move that would be seen as interference in Lebanon's internal affairs."
He added: "We are sorry that it came to the use of violence and the entrance of Syrian forces into the Christian enclave. We hope that these forces will leave as quickly as possible."
Israel carved out a 2- to 10-mile wide strip in southern Lebanon in 1985 to act as a buffer against guerrilla attacks when it withdrew the bulk of its forces from Lebanon following its 1982 invasion.
A 3,000-man South Lebanon Army led by General Antoine Lahad patrols the zone, backed by about 1,000 Israeli troops.
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a parliamentary leader, said Aoun's surrender would have little affect on the security of Israel's northern border, despite the Christian South Lebanon Army's close relations with Aoun.
Israel radio said residents of southern Lebanon had turned to the Israeli army officers to protect Christians in Beirut from reprisals.