Lebanon to file complaint at UN over Israel’s building of border wall

Order by Lebanese FM to raise issue at Security Council comes amid IDF campaign to destroy Hezbollah attack tunnels that enter Israeli territory

Construction work takes place near a new concrete wall on the border between Israel and Lebanon, near Rosh Hanikra in Northern Israel, on September 5, 2018. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)
Construction work takes place near a new concrete wall on the border between Israel and Lebanon, near Rosh Hanikra in Northern Israel, on September 5, 2018. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

Lebanon will issue a complaint at the UN Security Council over Israel’s building of a wall along their shared border, Lebanese state media reported Friday.

Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency quoted Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil as calling the Israeli move a violation of a UN Security Council resolution that ended the 2006 war between Israel and the Hezbollah terror group.

The report said the complaint was about a part of the wall that was being built on the edge of the Lebanese border village of Kfar Kela.

Tension has been rising recently on the border between the two countries that are technically still at war.

Israel last month announced the discovery of border attack tunnels, which it says were part of a Hezbollah plot to sneak into Israel and launch a surprise attack as part of an opening salvo in a future war.

This picture taken on December 4, 2018 from the southern Lebanese village of Kfar Kila shows a view of Israeli machinery operating behind the border wall in Israel. (Ali Dia/AFP)

Work on the security barrier began at the start of last year, with the joint IDF-Defense Ministry Borders and Security Fence Directorate having been cleared and received funding to build 13 kilometers (8 miles) of concrete walling along the approximately 130-kilometer (80-mile) border in order to protect the 22 adjacent Israeli villages.

Eventually the plan is to construct a barrier along the entire border — a project that would cost NIS 1.7 billion ($470 million).

The concrete barrier is designed to serve two main functions: protect Israeli civilians and soldiers from sniper attacks, and prevent infiltration into Israel by Hezbollah operatives.

The Lebanese government has contested the construction of the new border wall from the onset, arguing that it violates Lebanese sovereignty in some locations.

Lebanon has filed those complaints with the UN peacekeeping force UNIFIL, which acts as a liaison between Israel and Lebanon.

Some areas around the Israeli-Lebanese border are contested, with each country claiming the territory as its own — for instance, the strip of land known by Israel as Mount Dov and by Lebanon as Sheba’a Farms.

United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) soldiers patrol along the border wall with Israel near the southern Lebanese village of Kfar Kila on December 4, 2018. (Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP)

In addition to building the border fence to protect against a potential attack, the Israel Defense Forces launched Northern Shield in early December to destroy Hezbollah’s tunnels that crossed into Israeli territory.

So far, the Israeli military has uncovered five tunnels. After studying them, the IDF began the process of destroying the passages on December 20.

Israel has said it believes the tunnels were meant to be used by the Iran-backed terror group as a surprise component of an opening salvo in a future war, to allow dozens or hundreds of its fighters into Israel, alongside a mass infiltration of operatives above ground and the launching of rockets, missiles, and mortar shells at northern Israel.

Israeli troops prepare to destroy attack tunnels dug into Israel from southern Lebanon by the Hezbollah terror group on December 20, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

UNIFIL confirmed in mid-December that at least two of the tunnels crossed into Israel and were therefore a violation of the UN resolution that ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War, but did not confirm Israel’s allegations they were dug by Hezbollah. United Nations peacekeepers have stepped up patrols since the launch of the operation to ensure the frontier remains calm.

UN Resolution 1701 requires all armed groups besides the Lebanese military to remain north of the country’s Litani River. Despite the stipulations of the resolution, Hezbollah maintains vast forces, including an arsenal of rockets and missiles estimated at over 130,000 projectiles, in the country’s south.

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