Netanyahu Visits Lebanon Border, as Israel Seeks UNIFIL Action on Hezbollah Tunnels
Following the announcement earlier this week of the launch of “Operation Northern Shield,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited on Thursday the Lebanon border area, where the IDF is working to destroy tunnels built by Iran-backed Hezbollah.
At the border, Netanyahu briefed a group of foreign ambassadors on Israel’s counter-tunnel activities, in both the north and south.
“We are systematically and decisively denying our enemies the tunnels weapon,” Netanyahu said. “We are doing this with Hamas, and with Hezbollah; we will do whatever is necessary.”
“Whoever attacks us is taking his life into his hands,” he added. “Hezbollah knows this and so does Hamas.”
The prime minister urged the international community to “unequivocally condemn this aggression against us by Iran, by Hezbollah and by Hamas, and, of course, to also strengthen the sanctions against these elements.”
“This operation is just beginning but in the end, the tunnels weapon, in which Hezbollah has invested so much, will not exist and will not be effective,” he vowed.
Netanyahu noted that Israel had demanded the convening of a UN Security Council meeting on the matter, which he called an “important political and diplomatic step that complements our operational and engineering effort to deny Hezbollah and Iran the tunnels weapon.”
The group of diplomats Netanyahu spoke to included representatives of Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, the European Union, France, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Poland, Russia and Slovakia.
Also on Thursday, the head of the IDF Northern Command, Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick, guided Maj. Gen. Stefano Del Col — commander of UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon — on a tour of a Hezbollah tunnel uncovered by the IDF near the northern Israeli town of Metula this week.
Strick, the IDF said, asked for UNIFIL to “ensure the neutralization of the tunnel on the Lebanese side” of the border.
Furthermore, the Northern Command chief “severely protested Hezbollah’s violation of Israeli sovereignty, committed in order to harm Israeli civilians, as well as Hezbollah’s UN resolution violations” — particularly UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
The IDF emphasized it held the Lebanese government and army, as well as UNIFIL, “responsible for all events transpiring in and emanating from Lebanon and for the implementation of UNSCR 1701.”