Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks ahead of UNSC on Hezbollah.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Hezbollah’s attack tunnels are not just an act of aggression, but an act of war that is also putting the Lebanese people in jeopardy, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday, four hours before the UN Security Council met to discuss the issue.
“It is important to understand what Hezbollah is doing here,” Netanyahu said in an English statement to journalists.”It's targeting Israeli civilians, while hiding behind Lebanese civilians -- That's a double war crime.”
Asked at an impromptu press conference after the statement what message he had for the people of Lebanon, Netanyahu replied: “Hezbollah is putting you in great jeopardy, you should act in your own defense and roll them back, fight Hezbollah for the future of Lebanon."
Netanyahu, who was keen on delivering a message before the Security Council meeting, said that while Israel does not know if the Lebanese Army was aware of Hezbollah's tunnel project “in real time,” now that it does know, it is not taking any action against it.
“They should be there, they should be going to the entry of these tunnels, they should be uncovering them and neutralizing them , they are not doing that. It is their obligation to do so,” he said.
The Lebanese Army has been a “total failure,” he said. “They failed to take action to control their own territory, they failed to take action to prevent the use of their territory against the territory of a neighboring state, and they failed to dislodge the tyrannical Hezbollah.. They haven't even tried,” he said.
Asked by The Jerusalem Post
whether his presentation to the foreign press, as well as the well publicized uncovering of the tunnels, was an attempt to get international legitimacy for a future military action in Lebanon, Netanyahu said he doesn't' “believe in the school of being timid, cowering, and not speaking the truth. We speak the truth, tell the world what there is.”
Hezbollah is a “tool of Iran, both are committed to our destruction,” he said.. “The Lebanese government, which should be the first to challenge and protest this, is doing nothing at best, and colluding at worst, that is the truth, that has to be exposed, document and acted against, and there is no way to hide that with a blanket of silence.”
Netanyahu said that he spoke recently to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and urged Russia to “take the right stance and condemn Hezbollah.” The way to prevent another war -- something that Netanyahu noted Russia says it wants to do -- “is to prevent Hezbollah from acting aggressively from and from Syria,” he said.
Netanyahu, who revealed that the fourth tunnel recently discovered came from the southern Lebanese village of Ramya
and extended under the border near the Israeli community of Zarit, called on the Security Council to condemn Hezbollah aggression, designate it as a terrorist entity and sanction it, demand that Lebanon stop letting its territory be used to attack a neighboring state, and support Israel's right to defend itself again “Iranian-inspired and Iranian-conducted aggression.”
He also called on the Security COuncil to demand that UNIFIL “fully meet its mandate and deepen its operations,” including ensuring that UNIFIL has unrestrained access to any area in southern Lebanon, both on private and public lands.
He also said the Security COuncil should ensure that UNIFIL “has the ability to get to any area quickly, before they cover-up and destroy the evidence. That UNIFIL is not restricted by Hezbollah or the Lebanese army in any way and reports on any obstructions. And that UNIFIL provides detailed reports of any violations to the UN and to Israel in a timely manner.”
Asked to respond to Lebanon's claims that Israel routinely violates its sovereignty, and therefore has no room to complain about the violation of its own, Netanyahu said there was no equivalence between a bank robber, and the police who must use force to stop him.
Hezbollah’s stated goal is to destroy Israel, he said. Israel’s defensive actions are designed to keep it from doing that.
Before his statement to the journalists, an IDF spokesman announced teh location of the fourth tunnel, and said it was located sophisticate technology and monitoring changes in soil and terrain. He said that one tip off was a single tree near the tunnel that caught fire IN 2016. He did not elaborate.
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