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July 20, 2017 11:20 am

US and Israel Underline Hezbollah Threat as UN Security Council Reviews Lebanon Ceasefire

avatar by Ben Cohen

Members of Hezbollah’s youth movement trample on an Israeli flag at a rally in Beirut. Photo: File.

As Hezbollah steps up its provocations on Israel’s borders with Syria and Lebanon, the UN Security Council was to convene on Thursday to discuss the implementation of Resolution 1701 — adopted in August 2006 at the end of the 34-day Second Lebanon War.

Ahead of the meeting, American and Israeli diplomats in New York highlighted Hezbollah’s growing brazenness in confronting the IDF on its northern border. While Resolution 1701 mandates “the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that…there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese State,” Hezbollah has significantly built up its arsenal in the intervening decade, and now possesses over 100,000 missiles, according to Israeli intelligence estimates.

A report submitted to the UN Security Council by Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, noted 421 incidents of Resolution 1701 violations in the months of May and June of this year alone. Most of these involved increased surveillance and reconnaissance operations by Hezbollah terrorists, and an increased presence of armed individuals close to the border. Hezbollah has also been using a local NGO, “Green Without Borders,” as cover to conduct surveillance activities along the “Blue Line” — the border with Israel drawn by the UN following the IDF’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000.

During a meeting on Wednesday with Sigrid Kaag, UN special coordinator for Lebanon, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley stressed the need for more pressure on Hezbollah “to disarm and cease its destabilizing behavior, especially toward Israel.” Haley added that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) needed “to be fully engaged in addressing the threat posed by Hezbollah, according to UNIFIL’s mandate.”

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Danon said on Thursday that Hezbollah was violating Resolution 1701 “on a daily basis, as it continues to expand its arsenal in the midst of Lebanese civilian population centers.”

The renewed attention on Hezbollah comes in the midst of a public disagreement between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump over the ceasefire agreed between the US and Russia in Syria — where thousands of Hezbollah terrorists have been fighting alongside their Iranian sponsors to bolster the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Israel fears that Iran and Hezbollah will use the agreement to expand Tehran’s footprint in Syria and Lebanon. Earlier this week, retired IDF Maj. Gen. Yaakov Amidror told journalists that Israel would not hesitate to respond with military force, pointedly adding that he could not “see who will stop it.”

“The international community must not allow this dangerous strengthening of Hezbollah,” Danon said. “The Security Council must confront this threat head on and ensure that Resolution 1701 is enforced.”

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