Erdan urges UNSC to condemn Hezbollah for military build-up

"Hezbollah's continued military build-up has the potential to lead to serious consequences," Erdan wrote the UN Security Council.

Israeli Ambassador to the US and the UN Gilad Erdan at a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, May 25, 2021.  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Israeli Ambassador to the US and the UN Gilad Erdan at a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, May 25, 2021.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

WASHINGTON – Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan sent a letter to UN Security Council members urging them to hold Hezbollah accountable for violations of resolution 1701.

Erdan’s letter on Wednesday comes ahead of a discussion at the council on Monday regarding the implementation of the resolution.

“As clearly documented in Israel’s past letters to the Security Council, Iran’s proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah, continues to augment, unimpeded, its presence and military entrenchment in UNIFIL’s area of operation and along the Blue Line,” Erdan wrote. “Perhaps the most alarming aspect of these efforts is Hezbollah’s precision-guided missile development program, which is carried out in blatant violation of Security Council Resolutions including 1701 and 1559.”

Erdan said that by purposely concealing its weapons and ammunition warehouses in the midst of civilian population centers in southern Lebanon, “Hezbollah and its malign activities pose a threat not only to Israel and its citizens, but also to the people of Lebanon.”

These violations, Erdan wrote, have persisted even after the extension of UNIFIL’s mandate on August 28.

 A MAN RIDES a motorbike past a picture of Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, near Sidon, last year. (credit: ALI HASHISHO/REUTERS) A MAN RIDES a motorbike past a picture of Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, near Sidon, last year. (credit: ALI HASHISHO/REUTERS)

“The obstruction of UNIFIL’s movement in essence allows Hezbollah to continue its military buildup in southern Lebanon unencumbered, threatening the safety and security of both Israelis and Lebanese civilians,” Erdan said. “The recurring violent assaults against UNIFIL forces and their restriction of movement are not random or isolated episodes. Rather, they are deliberate attacks that are part of a broader strategy designed to limit the effectiveness of UN peacekeeping troops in the area. It is critical that the Security Council be provided with proper and credible information and tools in order to fully comprehend the gravity of the situation and its implications on UNIFIL’s ability to carry out its mandate.”

The ambassador added a map to his letter titled “Hezbollah’s Presence and Activity in Southern Lebanon,” which illustrates the heavy restrictions that Hezbollah and the Lebanese Armed Forces place upon UNIFIL’s freedom of movement and access.

“This map demonstrates the clear correlation between the areas to which UNIFIL is repeatedly denied access, and the areas in which Hezbollah conducts its terrorist activities,” Erdan said. “Notably, these areas include the six cross-border assault tunnels that Hezbollah dug from southern Lebanon into Israeli territory, which were exposed by the IDF in 2018.”

The ambassador noted that UNIFIL has yet to be granted permission to visit these sites. 

“I would like to reiterate that Hezbollah’s continued military build-up and harmful activities have the potential to lead to serious consequences, including the renewal of large-scale hostilities between the parties,” he explained. “Israel attaches great importance to the stability of Lebanon, and is not interested in any escalation of the situation. At the same time, we will not accept any violation of our sovereignty, and will take all necessary steps to protect our citizens.”

Erdan called on the Security Council members to condemn the violations “in no uncertain terms, and to remain seized of these matters in their deliberations.” He asked again that the Security Council grant UNIFIL “the power and the tools necessary to effectively and to fully implement its mandate.”