UN Security Council to convene on Hezbollah attack tunnels, Israeli envoy says
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UN Security Council to convene on Hezbollah attack tunnels, Israeli envoy says

After UN peacekeepers confirm underground shafts violate UN Resolution 1701, Danny Danon calls for strong action by global community

File: Israel's ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon speaks to members of the UN Security Council during an emergency session on the Israel-Gaza Conflict at United Nations headquarters in New York on May 30, 2018. (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images/AFP)
File: Israel's ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon speaks to members of the UN Security Council during an emergency session on the Israel-Gaza Conflict at United Nations headquarters in New York on May 30, 2018. (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images/AFP)

The UN Security Council will convene Wednesday to discuss the discovery of attack tunnels under the Israel-Lebanon border that Israel says were dug by the Hezbollah terrorist group, Israel’s UN mission said Tuesday.

The discussion, requested by Israel and the United States, will begin at 10 a.m. local time (5 p.m. Israel time) on Wednesday.

Israel has so far uncovered four passages crossing into Israel from Lebanon, and the UNIFIL peacekeeping force has confirmed their existence and acknowledged that the tunnels violate UN resolution 1701, adopted at the end of the 2006 Second Lebanon War. UNIFIL said Tuesday at least two of the tunnels crossed into Israeli territory.

“It is time for the Security Council to employ all its means against the terror infrastructure of Hezbollah, which continues to gain strength under the Lebanese government,” Israel’s UN envoy Danny Danon said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Israel launched Operation Northern Shield, an effort to find and destroy the tunnels it attributes to the Iran-backed terrorist group.

In this Thursday, December 13, 2018, photo, UN peacekeepers hold their flag, as they observe Israeli excavators working near the southern border village of Mays al-Jabal, Lebanon. (AP/Hussein Malla)

The operation has raised prospects of a possible fresh conflict on the volatile border, though Lebanon has downplayed chances of war, so long as Israeli troops do not cross its territory. UN peacekeepers, meanwhile, have stepped up their patrols to ensure that the frontier remains calm.

On Monday, UNIFIL declared that cross-border attack tunnels dug from southern Lebanon into Israel were a violation of the UN resolution that ended the 2006 conflict, saying it had confirmed that at least two tunnels crossed into Israel.

UN Resolution 1701 called for all armed groups in Lebanon besides the country’s military to remain north of the Litani River.

In this Thursday, December 13, 2018, photo, Israeli military equipment works on the Lebanese-Israeli border in front of the Israeli town of Metula, background, near the southern village of Kafr Kila, Lebanon. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Israel has for years claimed that Hezbollah has been violating Resolution 1701 by conducting military activities along the border. UNIFIL has largely rebuffed these allegations, and its announcement on Monday represented one of the few cases in which it has confirmed a violation of the UN resolution.

A spokesperson for the peacekeeping group said UNIFIL could not yet confirm the Israeli allegation that the tunnels were dug by Hezbollah, but said it was continuing to investigate the matter.

“UNIFIL has requested the Lebanese authorities ensure urgent follow-up actions in accordance with the responsibilities of the Government of Lebanon pursuant to resolution 1701,” UNIFIL said.

The peacekeeping force said it was working with both Lebanon and Israel in order to “ensure stability along the Blue Line and prevent misunderstandings in order to keep the area of operation calm.”

IDF troops uncover a tunnel leading into Israeli territory from southern Lebanon, which Israel says was dug by the Hezbollah terror group, on December 11, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

Also on Monday, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri met with UNIFIL commander Maj. Gen. Stefano Del Col, telling him that Beirut remained committed to upholding UN Resolution 1701.

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

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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