Guterres: Both sides must recommit to 2006 UN resolution

UN chief warns of catastrophe ‘beyond imagination’ if Lebanon ‘becomes another Gaza’

Iran’s UN mission says Hezbollah has capability to defend itself and Lebanon against Israel: ‘Perhaps the time for the self-annihilation of this illegitimate regime has come’

Smoke billows from fires ignited by Israeli shelling near the southern Lebanese village of Deir Mimas on June 15, 2024 (Rabih DAHER / AFP)
Smoke billows from fires ignited by Israeli shelling near the southern Lebanese village of Deir Mimas on June 15, 2024 (Rabih DAHER / AFP)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Friday he is profoundly concerned by escalating tensions between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group, and said that UN peacekeepers are working to calm the situation and prevent miscalculation.

“One rash move — one miscalculation — could trigger a catastrophe that goes far beyond the border, and frankly, beyond imagination,” he told reporters. “Let’s be clear: The people of the region and the people of the world cannot afford Lebanon to become another Gaza.”

Iran-backed Hezbollah has been firing rockets and launching drones at Israel on a near-daily basis since October 8 in attacks it says are in solidarity with Hamas since the war in Gaza erupted on October 7 with the Palestinian terror group’s devastating attack.

The Hezbollah rockets and drones have hit towns and military posts along the northern border. The attacks have forced tens of thousands to flee their homes, and huge amounts of destruction, as political pressure builds in Israel for tougher action.

Tens of thousands of Lebanese have also fled their homes following Israeli strikes in south Lebanon.

Under Resolution 1701, adopted in 2006 to bring an end to the war between Israel and Hezbollah terrorists, UN peacekeepers were deployed to monitor a ceasefire along the 120-kilometer (75-mile) demarcation line, or Blue Line, between Israel and Lebanon.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres gives a press conference on the sidelines of the 2024 United Nations Civil Society Conference at the UN Headquarters in Nairobi on May 10, 2024. (Tony KARUMBA / AFP)

It also calls for Hezbollah to withdraw its forces behind the Litani River – a demand the terror group has ignored.

“The parties must urgently recommit to the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1701 and immediately return to a cessation of hostilities,” Guterres said.

“UN peacekeepers are on the ground working to de-escalate tensions and help prevent miscalculation,” Guterres said.

“The world must say loudly and clearly: immediate de-escalation is not only possible – it is essential,” he said. “There is no military solution.”

Iran’s mission to the United Nations said Friday that Hezbollah has the capability to defend itself and Lebanon against Israel, warning that “perhaps the time for the self-annihilation of this illegitimate regime has come.”

“Any imprudent decision by the occupying Israeli regime to save itself could plunge the region into a new war,” Iran’s UN mission posted on X.

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire sparked by rockets launched from Lebanon, at the Biriya Forest in northern Israel, June 13, 2024. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Top US officials hosted their Israeli counterparts for meetings in Washington on Thursday, as concern in US President Joe Biden’s administration reportedly mounted over the potential opening of a full-blown northern front to the Gaza war that could see Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system overwhelmed by Hezbollah’s rocket arsenal.

The Shiite terror group is believed to possess some 150,000 rockets that it could use to target Israeli infrastructure.

US officials have not explicitly told their Israeli counterparts that they oppose an attack against Hezbollah but they have warned that such an offensive could lead to a much larger regional conflict with direct involvement from Iran, CNN reported Thursday.

Israeli officials have suggested that they could pull off a blitzkrieg-like attack, but US officials have expressed skepticism that such fighting can be contained.

Hezbollah members salute and raise the group’s yellow flags during the funeral of fighters killed in an Israeli strike on their vehicles, in Shehabiya in south Lebanon on April 17, 2024. (AFP)

Israel is seeking to push Hezbollah forces further north into Lebanon, creating a buffer zone that will allow Israeli residents to feel safe enough to return to their homes..

The US still believes it can broker a diplomatic agreement to restore calm on the northern border if it first succeeds in negotiating a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

So far, the skirmishes on the border have resulted in 10 civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of 15 IDF soldiers and reservists. There have also been several attacks from Syria, without any injuries.

Hezbollah has named 349 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 63 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and dozens of civilians have been killed.

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