Netanyahu Calls for Int’l Action against Hezbollah as UNIFIL Confirms Border Tunnel

Netanyahu Calls for Int’l Action against Hezbollah as UNIFIL Confirms Border Tunnel

Thursday, 6 December, 2018 - 13:15
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement in Jerusalem, in this picture grab taken February 13, 2018. Israeli Pool/via REUTERS
Asharq Al-Awsat
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took Israel-based diplomats to the border with southern Lebanon Thursday, showing them the site of a “Hezbollah” tunnel and calling for sanctions against the group.

"I told the ambassadors that they should condemn this aggression by Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, unequivocally, and of course also to intensify the sanctions against these elements," he said in a Hebrew-language statement.

Israel announced on Tuesday that it had discovered Hezbollah tunnels infiltrating its northern territory from southern Lebanon and launched an open-ended operation to destroy them.

Netanyahu said Israel plans to demand a response from the international community at a meeting of the UN Security Council called for by Tel Aviv.

He said that at the end of the operation, the tunnels "will no longer exist and will no longer be effective."

On Wednesday, Netanyahu told UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres that "he expects the UN to strongly condemn the violation of Israel's sovereignty", according to his office's Twitter account.

Netanyahu said Thursday that Hezbollah, like Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip, was acting on behalf of its patron Iran.

"Anyone who attacks us will have bloodshed on their own heads," he said. "Hezbollah knows that and Hamas knows it too."

The military said it had located one such tunnel dug from a home in the Kfar Kila area of south Lebanon that crossed into Israeli territory and was working to "neutralize" it.

Later on Thursday, the Israeli army called on the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to destroy a tunnel the military said was built by Hezbollah across the frontier.

It said it had contacted the peacekeeping force which monitors the border region regarding a tunnel originating on the Lebanese side of the border.

The military provided UNIFL with a map of the area around Ramieh village on which houses are marked which are "connected to another attack tunnel that has been dug from Lebanon into Israel," army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said.

The tunnel crosses into Israel but is not yet operational, he added.

Yoel Strik, head of the army's northern command, demanded the UN force "take action, investigate and make sure to neutralize the shaft of that attack tunnel" in a discussion with the head of the peacekeeping mission Stefano Del Col.

UNIFIL later confirmed the existence of the tunnel close to the Blue Line in Israel.

It said that it was “engaged with parties to ensure urgent follow-up action” and “will communicate its preliminary findings to the appropriate authorities in Lebanon.”

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