IDF discovers an additional Hezbollah tunnel entering Israel from Lebanon as part of Operation Northern Shield.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
The UN Security Council is scheduled to meet next Wednesday – at the request of the US – to discuss Hezbollah’s cross-border attack tunnels, Israel’s ambassador Danny Danon said on Thursday.
That meeting is to be an “open” session. Danon will present Israeli material and findings related to the violation of its sovereignty by the tunnels, and argue that this is a blatant violation of UN Security Council resolution 1701.
Lebanon, which has sent a letter of protest to the Security Council over Israel’s actions – including SMS warnings to residents of south Lebanon to stay clear of the tunnels – is also expected to take part in the meeting. Beirut has also protested Israel’s reconnaissance flights over its territory.
The council’s 15 members were slated to begin discussing the issue already on Thursday, at a closed meeting in which a number of other issues were expected to be raised.
Danon said that Israel has no expectation that the Security Council will pass a resolution condemning Hezbollah, but that one of the aims of the meeting is to get the council to define Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. A draft resolution on this matter is being prepared.
“Israel will expose Hezbollah’s terror operations and its blindfolding of the Lebanese government, under whose responsibility Hezbollah built a terrorist operation underground,” Danon said. “We must use every measure against Hezbollah to silence it and destroy its military and terror apparatus.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the discovery of the tunnels will give Israel leverage in diplomatic efforts to delegitimize and sanction Hezbollah. Although, along with Israel, the US, Canada and the Gulf Cooperation Council have labeled Hezbollah a terrorist organization, the EU has not done so – designating only its military wing as a terrorist group.
After the council convenes, Netanyahu will speak with UN Secretary-General António Guterres and “demand” that he condemn Hezbollah’s “violation of Israeli sovereignty,” according to an Israeli official.
France, which historically has a close relationship with Lebanon, issued its own call on Thursday for a Security Council meeting to discuss the tunnels.
The French Foreign Ministry issued a statement expressing its concern about the tunnels, calling this a violation of UN Security Council resolution 1701 that called for a ceasefire along the Lebanon-Israel border.
The statement said that France “expressed its concern to the Lebanese authorities and will continue its close dialogue with them on the situation in southern Lebanon.” It also called on “all sides to exercise caution and restraint.”
The statement added that France, which has 700 troops in UNIFIL – the UN forces in Lebanon – completely supports the mission, and that France “saluted” UNIFIL’s speedy response to the discovery of the tunnels and the putting into place of surveillance measures while “strictly observing the UNIFIL mandate.” It called on both Israeli and Lebanese authorities to continue close cooperation with UNIFIL.Michael Wilner in Washington contributed to this report.
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