Lebanon says fears Israeli attack during Hezbollah tunnel operation

Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz, who is also a member of Israel’s security cabinet, appeared to indicate that Israel could consider military action in Lebanese territory if necessary.

December 7, 2018 17:06
2 minute read.
Lebanon says fears Israeli attack during Hezbollah tunnel operation

Map of Hezbollah tunnel near Lebanon's Kfar Kila. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)


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Lebanon fears an Israeli attack as part of the IDF’s Operation Northern Shield to destroy Hezbollah attack tunnels that extend into Israeli territory, Lebanese Ambassador to the United Nations in New York Amal Mudallali told the Security Council on Thursday.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil has instructed Mudallal to complain to the UNSC that  Israel was waging "a diplomatic and political campaign against Lebanon in preparation for attacks against it," Hezbollah's l-Manar TV said.

The IDF has said that it only plans to operate against the Hezbollah attack tunnels on the Israeli side of the border, but Lebanon fears that that Israel won’t be bound by that limitation and will also operate against the tunnels in southern Lebanon. 

On Friday Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz, who is also a member of Israel’s security cabinet, appeared to indicate that Israel could consider military action in southern Lebanese territory if necessary.

"If we think that in order to thwart the tunnels that one needs to operate on the other side - then we will operate on the other side of the border," Katz told Radio Tel Aviv 102FM.

On Thursday Israel asked the UN peacekeeper missions, otherwise known as the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNFIIL), to close Hezbollah tunnels on the Lebanese side of the border.

In his letter to the UNSC, which was published by Israel on Friday, Mudallal said that Israel has already “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 Killa warning them of imminent explosions to take place on Lebanese territory that might put their lives at risk.”

Earlier this week Israel published information that a tunnel into its territory had been dug from Kafr Killia.

“This constitutes a new and extremely serious attack on the security and safety of the citizens of Lebanon, whereby Israel is violating the dignity and privacy of individuals and making a direct threat against their lives,” the envoy said.

She accused Israel of violating UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which set out the cease fire terms that ended the Second Lebanon war in 2006. Even before the tunnel operation, the envoy said, Israel was routinely violating Lebanese airspace, something that is probating under Resolution 1701.

A report by the office of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres published earlier this month said that there had been a increase of 35% in Israeli aerial activity over Lebanon. His office has accused both sides of violating Resolution 1701.

The Lebanese envoy called on the UNSC to “take all measures necessary to confront this systematic campaign being waged by Israel and Israel’s ongoing violations of Lebanese sovereignty, which are a threat to the security and stability of the entire region.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said, “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.

“Israel calls on 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. In the upcoming debate, we will present conclusive evidence of Hezbollah's violations and the willful blindness of the Lebanese government,” Danon said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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