Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon
Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon iStock

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan said in a letter addressed to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres that Security Council members need to be made aware of the rising tensions in Southern Lebanon, especially along the Blue Line, the border demarcation between Israel and Lebanon.

Erdan’s letter was sent in advance of the renewal of the mandate of UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon).

“I am confident that the Council's ability to attain a comprehensive and credible understanding of UNIFIL's activities can only be achieved through an accurate description of the facts on the ground,” he wrote.

Erdan noted that Iranian-proxy Hezbollah has continued “its presence and undisturbed military entrenchment in UNIFIL's Area of Operation, and along the Blue Line” even after the adoption of Security Council Resolution 2539 (2020) which gave UNIFIL responsibility for supporting the Lebanese people in the wake of the Beirut port explosion of August 2020.

He said that Hezbollah’s guided-missile program is “the most alarming expression of these efforts” and is conducted in violation of several Security Council resolutions.

“Hezbollah's terrorist activity poses a threat not only to Israel and its citizens, but also to the people of Lebanon, by purposely placing its weapons and ammunition warehouses in the midst of civilian population,” he said.

Noting several recent instances of Hezbollah firing rockets at Israeli citizens, including during the May conflict between Israel and Hamas, Erdan called the situation within UNIFIL’s Area of Operation “volatile” and that it “constitutes clear evidence of the existence of unauthorized weapons and ammunition in the area.”

He called upon UNIFIL to conduct a “thorough investigation” in this regard and report its findings to the Security Council.

“As witnessed during these past months, Hezbollah continues to increase its military buildup, turning UNIFIL’s Area of Operation into a launching pad for attacks against Israel. In order to establish its presence in Southern Lebanon, Hezbollah proceeds methodically and systematically to deprive UNIFIL of its ability to implement its mandate,” he said.

His letter included a map titled "Hezbollah's Presence and Activity in Southern Lebanon” that “visually depicts the restrictions that Hezbollah and LAF (Lebanese Armed Forces) set on UNIFIL's freedom of movement and access.”

Erdan said, “I call upon the Security Council to condemn the above-mentioned violations and dangerous developments in Southern Lebanon, and I hope that the information contained in this letter will be taken into consideration and will be reflected in the upcoming renewal of UNIFIL's mandate. It is incumbent upon the Security Council to grant UNIFIL the power and tools necessary to effectively implement its mandate. UNIFIL must make sure that its area of operation is not utilized for any hostile activity against Israel.”

He concluded, “I would like to reiterate that Israel attaches great importance to the stability of Lebanon and is not interested in any escalation, however, it will not accept any violation of its sovereignty and will take all necessary steps to protect its citizens.”