Israel on Friday slammed the Lebanese government for “hypocrisy” after Lebanon’s UN envoy accused the Jewish state of violating a critical Security Council resolution that — had it been implemented after it was passed in 2006 — would have resulted in the disarming and disbanding of Hezbollah, Iran’s Shi’a proxy in Lebanese territory.
In a letter to the Security Council, Lebanese Ambassador Amal Mudallali charged that Israel was waging a “political and diplomatic war” against Lebanon, which she said marked a prelude to “further attacks.”
Condemning Israel’s “Operation Northern Shield” — launched this week by the IDF to destroy underground tunnels into Israeli territory dug by Hezbollah — Mudallali wrote in the letter that “this is being accompanied by a number of extremely serious acts, of which the most recent is that Israel has breached the Lebanese communications grid by hacking into the telephone network and sending recorded messages to peaceable civilian inhabitants of the southern part of the village of Kafr Kila warning them of imminent explosions to take place on Lebanese territory that might put their lives at risk.”
The IDF routinely issues advance warnings to civilians ahead of possible military activities encouraging them to seek safety, a policy interpreted by the Lebanese government as an open threat to civilian lives.
“The Lebanese government, under whose rule Hezbollah has established an underground network of missiles and has dug tunnels entering into Israel, is hypocritically seeking to condemn Israel, which is working to defend its citizens,” Danny Danon, Israel’s UN ambassador, said in a statement responding to Mudallali’s letter.
Danon added that Israel was willing to present proof of Hezbollah’s repeated violations of Security Council Resolution 1701 — which brought an end to the 33-day war in 2006 provoked by Hezbollah’s bombardment of northern Israel with rockets. The resolution, which was overwhelmingly approved by both the Israeli and Lebanese governments, calls for the disarmament of “all armed” groups in Lebanon, and specifies that no armed forces other than the official Lebanese army and the UN peacekeeping force UNIFIL are permitted in southern Lebanon.
However, in the 12 years since the passage of that resolution Hezbollah has — with Iranian backing — strengthened its forces and its missile capabilities in southern Lebanon. A detailed October 2017 report by a group of former senior NATO officers argued that while Hezbollah’s ethos and operations are those of a terrorist organization, its combat capabilities are those of a “standard military force.” The report said that Hezbollah retains 25,000 active fighters, with a reserve pool of 20,000 more. Hezbollah is also believed to possess approximately 150,000 missiles — 10 times the number at its disposal in 2006.
Danon emphasized that Israel wanted the Security Council to convene “as soon as possible to discuss the actual violations of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, as clearly revealed this week in Operation Northern Shield.”
Said Danon: “In the upcoming debate, we will present conclusive evidence of Hezbollah’s violations and the willful blindness of the Lebanese government.”
The Algemeiner (c) 2018 . Ben Cohen