At the request of Israel and the United States, the UN Security Council (UNSC) will hold a special meeting on Wednesday evening to discuss the Hezbollah terrorist tunnels crossing the border from Lebanon into Israel. The emergency session comes to address rising tensions on Israel’s border with Lebanon.
Israel initiated Operation Northern Shield two weeks ago after discovering a total of four tunnels that penetrated from Lebanon into Israel. The tunnels violate Resolution 1701 signed by Israel and Lebanon in 2006 which called for all armed groups in Lebanon besides the country’s military to remain north of the Litani River.
Earlier this week, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), tasked with overseeing compliance with Resolution 1701, acknowledged the existence of the tunnels but failed to specify that Hezbollah was to blame.
In a public statement before the UNSC meeting, Netanyahu said that a far-reaching international response to the terrorist tunnels was needed.
“I call on all the members of the Security Council to condemn Hezbollah’s wonton acts of aggression; to designate Hezbollah, in its entirety, as a terrorist organization; to press for heightened sanctions against Hezbollah; to demand that Lebanon stop allowing its territory to be used as an act of aggression and its citizens to be used as pawns; to support Israel’s right to defend itself against Iranian-inspired and Iranian-conducted aggression.”
“I call on the Security Council to demand that UNIFIL fully meet its mandate and deepen its operations. This includes ensuring that UNIFIL has unrestrained access to any area in southern Lebanon, including private and public lands. That UNIFIL has the ability to get to any area quickly, before they cover-up and destroy the evidence. That UNIFIL is not restricted by Hezbollah or the Lebanese army in any way and reports on any obstructions. And that UNIFIL provides detailed reports of any violations to the UN and to Israel in a timely manner.”
At a media conference at the Knesset on Wednesday, Netanyahu called the tunnels “an act of war.”
He also called the tunnels a “war-crime”, explaining that they were dug in and under the houses of Lebanese civilians.
“It’s targeting Israeli civilians while hiding behind Lebanese civilians. That’s a double war crime,” Netanyahu said to the press.
Israel’s UN envoy Danny Danon released a statement in advance of the UNSC meeting.
“It is time for the Security Council to employ all its means against the terror infrastructure of Hezbollah, which continues to gain strength under the Lebanese government,” Danon said.
Lebanon’s National News Agency reported that a verbal confrontation between IDF troops and Lebanese army soldiers took place on Monday while the IDF installed 200 meters of barbed wire along the border. UNIFIL personnel were present during the confrontation but did not step in.
The IDF believes the tunnels were being prepared for future warfare, to enable terrorists to stream into Israel as part of a larger military effort, including above-ground invasions and rocket launches. It is believed that Hezbollah has an arsenal of approximately 100,000-150,000 short-and medium-range missiles and rockets, as well as several hundred long-range missiles.