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.
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.
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.”
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.