Some two weeks after Israel launched “Operation Northern Shield” to eliminate Hezbollah’s cross-border attack tunnels from Lebanon, Israel has said that it will present the U.N. Security Council with damning evidence proving that the Lebanese army has been helping Hezbollah in its excavation efforts in violation of the U.N.’s resolutions.
The council met on Wednesday, days after the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) concluded that the tunnels snaking under the Israel-Lebanon border and jutting into Israeli territory were a violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701.
The resolution, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah, prohibits the presence of any Lebanese armed group south of the Litani River, apart from the central government’s military, known as the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).
On Tuesday, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon said that “now that UNIFIL has confirmed that the Hezbollah tunnels are a severe breach of Resolution 1701, the Security Council is duty-bound to use every means at its disposal against Hezbollah, which continues its buildup under the auspices of the Lebanese government.”
Danon plans to emphasize that Lebanese troops have given their tacit approval and turned a blind eye to Hezbollah’s tunneling activity, effectively sanctioning it.
He will present what he calls “clear-cut intelligence evidence” that proves the LAF and Hezbollah are coordinating their activity and allowing the terrorist group to undermine Israel’s efforts to tackle these tunnels.
Israel’s Ambassador the U.N. will also unveil new information demonstrating Hezbollah’s violations of Resolution 1701.
“There is a clear line of communication between LAF elements and the terrorist organization; those elements help Hezbollah destabilize the region,” Danon said on Tuesday. “Under the Lebanese government’s watch, Hezbollah has created an entire network of tunnels and factories for precision-guided missiles; this is a brazen violation of the U.N. Security Council resolution, but also endangers the lives of the residents of southern Lebanon, who are being used as human shields.”
Danon vowed that “Israel will act with force against Hezbollah and any other entity that tries to undermine its sovereignty.”
According to Danon, “The 2006 resolution has already said, loud and clear, that Hezbollah must not continue its terrorist activity against Israel, but this has not stopped the organization from staying the course, and now it is trying to breach into Israeli territory using terror tunnels. Reality on the ground has shown that Hezbollah could not care less about what the Security Council has to say.”
Israeli officials have repeatedly said that if Hezbollah attacks Israel, the Israeli government would hold the Lebanese government accountable.
According to a report in the Lebanese paper Al-Akhbar on Tuesday, Israel asked the United States to pressure the Lebanese government to ensure that it cooperates with UNIFIL, and helps locate and destroy the cross-border tunnels.
IDF officials noted that Hezbollah has been trying to block access to the the tunnels in recent days.
IDF officials dismissed a Lebanese media report that the LAF forced the Israeli military to halt its efforts to expose tunnels in certain areas near the border. “The operation continues in several locations, both overtly and covertly,” the IDF said.