Daily Israel Report

Bush Demands Syria Shut Down Hizbullah

American President George W. Bush demanded Tuesday night that Syria not only withdraw from Lebanon but also shut down Hizbullah terrorist operations.

First Publish: 4/20/2005, 2:12 PM / Last Update: 4/19/2005, 10:25 PM

Hizbullah "is a dangerous organization," the President said on a Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation broadcast. "There is a reason why we've put Hizbullah on a terrorist list. They've killed Americans in the past. We will continue to work with the international community to keep them on that list and we will continue to pressure this group... You can't have a free country if a group of people are like an armed militia."

Bush also called for Syria to withdraw totally from Lebanon and to stop supporting Hizbullah: “The United States can join with the rest of the world... and say to Syria, get out -- not only get out with your military forces, but get out with your intelligence services, too; get completely out of Lebanon, so Lebanon can be free and the people can be free."

Hizbullah has been increasing its strength over the past several years, ever since its attacks on Israeli soldiers succeeded in forcing then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak to withdraw IDF troops from the southern Lebanon "security zone." Israeli forces had been there since the 1982 "Peace for Galilee" War, and were withdrawn in April 2000. The withdrawal encouraged the Palestinian Authority to launch the Oslo War five months later.

Since Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon, many of the Hizbullah tactics and weapons have found their way across the Syrian-controlled Lebanese border into Israel. They are largely found in the Jenin, Tul Karem and Shechem areas of Samaria. Both Israel and the United States have accused Syria of financing and encouraging the Hizbullah terrorists.

The American government attributes to Hizbullah several attacks on U.S. soldiers, including bombings on the American embassy in Beirut and on Marines barracks.

Hizbullah was also behind the attack on the Israeli Embassy and Jewish cultural center in two separate bombings in Argentina several years ago.