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Guterres: Cross-Border Tunnels Unacceptable

Guterres: Cross-Border Tunnels Unacceptable

Thursday, 6 December, 2018 - 06:45
UNIFIL patrols in southern Lebanon. AFP
New York - Beirut - Ali Barada and Asharq Al-Awsat
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has deemed “wholly unacceptable” the building of tunnels from one state to another after Israel announced that it had discovered Hezbollah tunnels infiltrating its territory from southern Lebanon and launched an operation to destroy them.

Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a press briefing on Wednesday that Commander of The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Major General Stefano Del Col chaired a regular tripartite meeting with senior officers from the Lebanese army and the Israeli military at the UN position in Ras al-Naqoura.

He said discussions included Israeli “activities south of the Blue Line looking for suspected tunnels.”

“Del Col emphasized the critical role of the UN forces’ liaison and coordination mechanisms in mitigating tensions through continuous communications.  He encouraged both sides to avoid misunderstandings and ensure that security and stability along the Blue Line is maintained and reinforced,” said Dujarric.

The UNIFIL Commander also “stressed the importance of ensuring that UNIFIL has full access to all locations along the Blue Line, and he appealed for the support of the parties in reducing the high level of rhetoric.”

At the meeting, it was agreed that the UN peacekeeping mission would send a technical team to Israel on Thursday to ascertain the facts, the spokesman added.

Asked by Asharq Al-Awsat about claims made by Lebanon’s Speaker Nabih Berri that Israel has given no proof of border tunnels, Dujarric said: “From the Secretary‑General's point of view, his principle is that the building of tunnels from one country to another for military purposes is wholly unacceptable.”

"The Israelis did not present any information" at Wednesday's meeting with the Lebanese army and the UNIFIL peacekeeping force, a statement from Berri's office said earlier Thursday.

His statement came as Caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil gave instructions to file a complaint with the UN Security Council regarding Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty.

Israel makes a total of 150 violations a month of UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

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