Rejecting Hezbollah demands, Security Council strengthens UN peacekeepers’ mandate

Members of UNIFIL patrol the area of Naqura, south of the Lebanese city of Tyre, along the border with Israel on June 6, 2022. (Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP)
Members of UNIFIL patrol the area of Naqura, south of the Lebanese city of Tyre, along the border with Israel on June 6, 2022. (Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP)

The resolution approved today by the Security Council demands that the Lebanese military and Hezbollah terror group stop blocking the movement of the UN peacekeeping force and guarantee its freedom to operate, “including by allowing announced and unannounced patrols.”

Lebanese officials had pushed to remove a provision in the resolution, first introduced last year, that allows the peacekeepers to patrol without giving prior notice to the Lebanese army.

Hassan Nasrallah, head of the Lebanese militant group and political party Hezbollah, said in a speech Monday that the provision is a violation of Lebanese sovereignty, and that the United States wants the UN peacekeeping force “to be spies for the Israelis.”

But the council ignores the request, instead voting to strengthen last year’s text and reaffirming that under the agreement between the United Nations and the Lebanese government, the peacekeeping force known as UNIFIL “does not require prior authorization or permission to undertake its mandated tasks.”

Israel’s mission to the UN says the vote protected UNIFIL’s freedom of action, allowing the peacekeepers to continue operating without coordination with the Lebanese army.

The resolution also expresses the Security Council’s concern over the Green without Borders, an environmental organization seen by Israel, the US and others in the West as a cover for Hezbollah military activities along the border.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan praises the decision and pledges to continue demanding from Lebanon to prevent Hezbollah’s military buildup, “which could lead to a dramatic escalation in the region.”

Israel has repeatedly accused Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, of impeding UNIFIL peacekeepers from carrying out their mandate. Hezbollah battled Israel to a stalemate in a month-long war in 2006, and in 2019 Israel destroyed a series of what it said were attack tunnels dug under the border by Hezbollah.

UNIFIL was created to oversee the withdrawal of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon after a 1978 invasion. The mission was expanded after the 2006 war so peacekeepers could deploy along the Lebanon-Israel border to help Lebanese troops extend their authority into their country’s south for the first time in decades. That resolution also called for a full cessation of Israeli-Hezbollah hostilities, which has not happened.

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