JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz told graduating air force cadets Thursday that Lebanese-based Hezbollah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah may have fanned the fires by sending troop reinforcements to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
According to Gantz, Nasrallah's decision is stirring the unrest between Sunnis, who back the rebels, and Hezbollah's Shia movement in Lebanon.
"Syria is still bleeding," Gantz said, "and in Lebanon the flames have started to creep up on Nasrallah."
Gantz told cadets the Israel Air Force is "the strategic arm of the IDF," saying "it can make our enemies pay anytime, anywhere."
The chief of staff said unrest on Israel's borders makes it imperative to be "more prepared than ever."
Meanwhile the city of Sidon in southern Lebanon was the scene of fierce fighting earlier in the week between government troops and Sunni gunmen, raising more speculation that Syria's civil war is spilling over the border.
According to media reports, supporters of Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir, a hardline Sunni cleric, opened fire on Lebanese troops at a checkpoint, sparking two days of intense fighting that sent some residents fleeing.
The Lebanese parliament voted last month to postpone elections scheduled for June due to security concerns over the civil war in Syria.