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Lebanon Chooses Silence after Israeli Demand to Destroy Border Tunnels

Lebanon Chooses Silence after Israeli Demand to Destroy Border Tunnels

Saturday, 8 December, 2018 - 09:15
Israeli soldiers are seen from the village of Kfar Kila, in southern Lebanon, December 5, 2018. (Reuters)
Beirut - Paula Astih
Lebanon had yet to comment Friday on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon’s (UNIFIL) confirmation of the existence of a tunnel stretching from southern Lebanon into Israeli territory that Tel Aviv said was dug by Hezbollah.

The party itself has not yet commented on the latest development on the southern border.

“The party opted to remain silent to avoid being lured into divulging any strategic or confidential information,” sources informed on Hezbollah’s position said Friday.

Ministerial sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that “all concerned official parties were following up on the issue and they are exerting efforts to address it away from the media or political spotlight.”

The necessary measures will be taken at the appropriate time, they said after Israel demanded that the Lebanese army take the initiative and destroy the tunnels.

A statement on President Michel Aoun’s meetings on Friday did not disclose whether he held talks related to this issue.

Meanwhile, General Security chief, Major General Abbas Ibrahim met with UNIFIL Commander General Stefano Del Col to discuss the latest developments along the border with Israel.

On Thursday, Tel Aviv asked the Lebanese army to take the initiative, block the access to the tunnels and make sure they are not used for hostile purposes against Israel.

A source from the Lebanese Forces told Asharq Al-Awsat that after UNIFIL confirmed the presence of such tunnels, Lebanon will be faced with two options.

On the internal scene, the Lebanese government should inform Hezbollah that its actions could lead Lebanon to war and it must therefore, urge it to respect UN Security Council resolution 1701.

On the foreign level, it should turn to the UN and major powers to confront any Israeli aggression against Lebanon.

On Friday, the National News Agency reported that an Israeli infantry unit, backed by six vehicles, crossed the technical border fence on the outskirts of Mays al-Jabal in Bint Jbeil and infiltrated the area by some 100 meters to carry out works.

It added that the force returned to Israel in the afternoon.

Beirut is preparing to file a complaint to the UN over Israel’s “diplomatic and political campaign against Lebanon that are a precursor to waging attacks against it.”

Director of the INEGMA - Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, Riyad Qahwaji said that after UNIFIL confirmed the existence of the tunnels, Israel, the United States, Europe and other countries will try to “exploit the issue as a Lebanese assault against Israeli sovereignty.”

He told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The international community is aware however, that the Lebanese state does not have the power to declare war or peace. This power lies in Hezbollah’s hands.”

“The question therefore, remains over the party’s stance if Israel decides to truly act on its threats and destroy the tunnels from the Lebanese side of the border,” he added.

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