Peacekeepers from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and Lebanese army members are seen near the border with Israel near the village of Kfar Kila, Lebanon February 10, 2018. .
(photo credit: ALI HASHISHO/REUTERS)
The IDF increased its almost daily aerial actions in Lebanese airspace by 35% from July to October 24 in response to growing concerns over Hezbollah missiles and Iranian activity in the country and neighboring Syria.
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon “recorded 550 air violations, totaling 2,057 overflight hours,” according to a report written by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, which the Security Council in New York debated behind closed doors on Wednesday without any conclusions.
“Unmanned aerial vehicles accounted for 481 of these violations (87%), with the remaining violations involving fighter jets or unidentified aircrafts. UNIFIL protested all air violations to the Israel Defense Forces and urged their immediate cessation,” Guterres stated.
The report, which is submitted three times per year, recorded violations of UNSC Resolution 1701 of August 2006 that set out the ceasefire conditions for the end of the Second Lebanon War.
The previous report covering the period March 1 to June 19 “recorded 456 air violations, totaling 1,518 overflight hours. Unmanned aerial vehicles accounted for 368 (80.7%) of these violations.”
Guterres also called on Hezbollah to disarm, stating that possession of weapons by a non-state actor “is deeply troubling and poses a dangerous threat to the stability of Lebanon and the region.”
He added that “allegations of illegal arms transfers to non-state armed groups [Hezbollah] in Lebanon also continue and warrant serious concern.”
But, he said, “the United Nations is not in a position to substantiate them independently. Were these allegations to be proven correct, they would constitute a violation of resolution 1701 (2006).”
In its report, the UN said it was also unable to verify Israeli reports of three sites near Beirut’s International border which convert inaccurate projectiles into precision missiles. Nor did it confirm Israeli allegations that Iran has sent arm shipments to Lebanon on commercial flights to Beirut.
Late last month Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon called on the UNSC and Guterres to condemn Hezbollah actions in Lebanon, including the storage of weapons near the airport.
“Every minute of inaction breathes life into Hezbollah’s deadly terrorist ambitions,” Danon said.
“Any country whose citizens land at the airport in Beirut should be anxious about Hezbollah activity in the region,” he added. “Israel reserves the right to protect its citizens from the growing threat of Hezbollah, and will not tolerate Hezbollah’s use of Lebanon as a launching pad for attacks that threaten the lives of innocent Israelis.”
Hezbollah has more than 100,000 rockets and precision missiles in Lebanon, IDF Strategic Division Brig.-Gen. Ram Yavne told the The Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference on Wednesday.
He added that every third or fourth home in Lebanon was being used to store weapons.Prominent Likud politician Gideon Sa’ar told the conference that Hezbollah
had “significantly upgraded its capabilities in the last years.”
Sa’ar called for preemptive military strikes against Hezbollah’s precision guided missiles before it was too late, noting that the window of opportunity to mitigate Hezbollah’s military threat was closing.
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