UN official condemns doubling of Israeli aerial violations over Lebanon

The UNSC met in New York Monday amid rising tensions along Israel’s northern border between the IDF and Iranian proxy groups, such as Hezbollah, which has precision missile aimed at Israel.

A boy looks out the window of a building, damaged from an Israeli attack in Damascus, Syria (photo credit: REUTERS/OMAR SANADIKI)
A boy looks out the window of a building, damaged from an Israeli attack in Damascus, Syria
(photo credit: REUTERS/OMAR SANADIKI)
Israel doubled its aerial activity over Lebanon from July to October with 787 recorded violations, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote in his periodic report to the Security Council, in which he condemned such activity.
“I reiterate my condemnation of all violations of Lebanese sovereignty and my calls for Israel to cease its violations of Lebanese airspace, and to expedite the withdrawal of its forces from northern Ghajar and the adjacent area north of the Blue Line,” he said.
The Blue Line is the border demarcation between Lebanon and Israel published by the UN in 2000 establishing that Israel had fully withdrawn from Lebanese territory.
In his previous report that covered February through June, Guterres wrote that Israel had averaged a hundred aerial violations a month.
Guterres’s report was published in advance of Monday’s Security Council meeting on violations of Security Council Resolution 1701 that set out the ceasefire terms, which marked the end of the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
The violations entailed “3,292 overflight hours” Guterres wrote, noting that drone activity accounted for 91% of the violations.
Guterres drew on data from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon [UNIFIL], which had recorded 420 ground violations into Israeli territory by Lebanese civilians who crossed south of the Blue Line. But 271 of those violations were by shepherds and farmers, mainly in the Mount Dov area also known as Shaba Farms, according to Guterres.
The Security Council met in New York on Monday amid rising tensions along Israel’s northern border between the IDF and Iranian proxy groups, including Hezbollah, which is equipped with precision-guided missiles believed to be targeting strategic and military sites Israel.
“We demand that the UN continue to hold the same firm line,” said Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon. “Hezbollah is an explosive barrel in Lebanon’s belly, and the Security Council must commit itself to recognizing it as a terrorist organization, and thus begin to restore stability to the region.”
Guterres also had harsh words for the Lebanese Army and Hezbollah, the Iranian proxy group that operates as an independent military force in Lebanon. In violation of Resolution 1701, Hezbollah has dug attack tunnels crossing into the Jewish state, many of which Israel has uncovered. UNIFIL’s observer mission has yet to be given access to the tunnels, according to Guterres.
“I urge the Lebanese Armed Forces to expeditiously undertake and conclude all necessary investigations regarding the tunnels on the Lebanese side, and to take preventive measures against similar occurrences in the future,” he wrote, adding that “no progress was achieved with respect to the disarmament of armed groups. Hezbollah continued to acknowledge publicly that it maintains precision missiles and other military capabilities.”
Hezbollah’s maintenance of arms outside the control of the state, he wrote, “restricts the State’s ability to exercise full sovereignty and authority over its territory.”
Guterres called on the “Lebanese Armed Forces to ensure that the area along the Blue Line remains free of unauthorized weapons and is not used for hostile activities,” and reiterated his call for “calm and restraint” by all parties along Israel’s northern border.
Guterres said he welcomed efforts by the Lebanese Armed Forces to curb smuggling activity at the border.
Danon’s office welcomed the report, which it said struck a harsher tone against Hezbollah than past quarterly reports.
“The annex about the arms embargo is much more extensive and uses language from Danon’s letters to the UNSC and the secretary-general,” his office said.
Unlike last year, “paragraph 95 explicitly calls out the threat that outside weapons by non-state armed groups pose to the Lebanese government.”
Guterres also referenced Danon’s speech before the Security Council on July 23 in which he said, “The Port of Beirut is now the Port of Hezbollah.”