Lebanese PM: Israel's operation shouldn't lead to escalation

Saad Hariri says Israel’s operation to destroy Hezbollah terror tunnels should not lead to “any escalation”.

Elad Benari ,

Saad Hariri
Saad Hariri

Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri said on Wednesday that Israel’s operation to destroy Hezbollah terror tunnels that were dug into Israel should not lead to “any escalation”, the Lebanese Naharnet website reported.

“The developments on the southern border must not represent a reason for any escalation, and this is what Lebanon wants and is seeking with all the international and friendly sides concerned with this,” Hariri said in a statement quoted by the website.

“The Lebanese government stresses commitment to the full obligations of Resolution 1701 and to the ongoing coordination and cooperation between Lebanese authorities and UN forces. It also asserts that the responsibility for protecting the border and extending legitimate authority along the entire border falls on the Lebanese Army, in line with the requirements of international legitimacy and the declared resolutions in this regard,” he continued.

Hariri blasted what he called “Israel’s continued violation of Lebanese airspace and territorial waters,” and added that the Lebanese government will continue the issue with “the relevant parties of the UN General Secretariat and the member states of the UN Security Council.”

The IDF launched Operation Northern Shield overnight Monday in order to dismantle terrorist tunnels dug by Hezbollah from Lebanon into Israeli territory.

Within hours of the initial announcement, the IDF reported that it had uncovered a terror tunnel originating in the southern Lebanese village of Kafr Kela, and leading into Israeli territory. The tunnel was dug from a cement factory in the southern Kafr Kela area and which had been converted to a military site by Hezbollah terrorists.

Earlier on Wednesday, an IDF team participated in a pre-scheduled trilateral meeting, chaired by the UNIFIL Force Commander and Head of Mission Stefano Del Col, with a team from the Lebanese Armed Forces.

According to the IDF, the meeting focused on the IDF’s exposure of the Hezbollah cross-border attack tunnel dug from Lebanon into Israel. The IDF expressed its protests regarding the severe violation of Israeli sovereignty and UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

Hariri has been tasked with forming the next coalition in Lebanon, though his party suffered significant losses in the last election, while Hezbollah and its allies gained more than half the seats of the 128-member Lebanese parliament.

The country remains at a political deadlock amid disagreements between Hariri and Hezbollah parliamentarians.

Hariri, who is backed by Saudi Arabia, included Iranian-backed Hezbollah in his last cabinet.