Patriot Missiles Deployed near Haifa

Ad Feedback - For the first time since the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006, Israel has deployed Patriot missile defense systems near the northern port city of Haifa.

The Patriot systems are on standby in the event of retaliatory strikes by the Lebanese-based Hezbollah following last week's assassination of terrorist mastermind Imad Mughniyeh.

Home Front Command also checked northern air warning stations and briefed heads of municipalities and local councils on preparedness in the event of an attack.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) moved troops closer to the border with Lebanon.

In a videotaped speech broadcast at Mughniyeh's funeral, Hezbollah spiritual leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said the Second Lebanon War wasn't over yet and repeated his oft-made threat that "Israel will cease to exist."

Nasrallah accused the Lebanese government of collaborating with Israel, sparking an angry response from Prime Minister Fuad Siniora.

"Lebanon wants good relations with all the world -- except Israel," Siniora said in two separate interviews with Lebanese television stations. "We need to stop classifying people and charging them with being agents," he said, referring to Nasrallah's accusation of conspiring with Israel.

In an editorial in Monday's al-Ahbar, a pro-Hezbollah daily, editor-in-chief Ibrahim al-Amin wrote of Israel's destruction.

"The confrontation that began under the title 'destruction of Israel' requires different tools from those [used] in the liberation of territory," predicting that Hezbollah will surprise Israel.

"They [Israel] will have to await a response where they are expecting it and where they are not," al-Amin wrote.

In a condolence letter to Nasrallah, Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander in chief of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, predicted that the "hands of Hezbollah" would soon destroy Israel.

"In the near future, we will witness the destruction of the cancerous germ of Israel by the powerful and competent hands of the Hezbollah combatants," the Fars News Agency quoted Jafari.

"Undoubtedly the martyrdom of this sincere fighter [Mughniyeh] will strengthen the determination of all revolutionary and combatant Muslims, particularly his co-combatants in confrontation with the Zionist regime," he said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki called Israel's existence illegitimate.

"The West has tried to impose a fabricated regime on the Middle East, but even after 60 years, the Zionist regime has neither gained any legitimacy nor played any role in this region," Iran's state news agency quoted Mottaki as saying.

Mottaki said US policies in the Middle East are a failure.

"The era of imposing policies on other states by military threats is over," he said. "The [Arab] nations in the region will no longer surrender to any threats."

Source: Haaretz

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