Israel

IDF General: UN Failing to Keep Hezbollah Out of Southern Lebanon

Israel’s deputy chief of staff disputed the effectiveness of the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission in Lebanon while touring the border with the force’s commander and Washington’s ambassador to the United Nations last week, Israel’s Channel Two reported.

After Maj. Gen. Michael Beary, the head of the UN’s Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), told U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley that Israel’s border with Lebanon was stable and needed no further intervention, IDF Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi interrupted and said that UNIFIL not doing its job properly job and failed to enter villages in southern Lebanon that are controlled by Hezbollah.

Kochavi urged Haley to help change UNIFIL’s mandate so that it would have the power to disarm Hezbollah.

UNIFIL was established in 1978 to supervise the border between Israel and Lebanon. Since the Second Lebanon War in 2006, UNIFIL has also been charged with maintaining the ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah. The terms of UN Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the war, called for UNIFIL “to ensure that no armed groups such as Hizbollah would move into” southern Lebanon.

Though an Israeli diplomatic source apologized for Kochavi’s outburst, Haley indicated that she was happy to gain a better understanding of the threats facing Israel and that his remarks would influence her work at the UN.

Last month, former Israeli ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor wrote an op-ed calling on the world community to take action against Hezbollah, which he said has grown stronger than most NATO nations. He urged the Security Council to strengthen and enforce resolution 1701, in line with Chapter 7 of the UN’s charter, which mandates peace enforcement.

According to a July 2016 report by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Israeli officials believe that any future war with Hezbollah has the potential to cause “thousands of civilian deaths” in Israel. Hezbollah has, among other things, threatened to attack ammonium tanks in Haifa, which could kill tens of thousands of people.

Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, explained that month that Hezbollah’s widely-reported tactic of hiding military assets in civilian areas would lead to mass casualties. Reports emerged in 2013 that Hezbollah was offering reduced-price housing to Shiite families who allowed the terrorist group to store rocket launchers in their homes. An Israeli defense official told The New York Times in May 2015 that the buildup of Hezbollah’s terror infrastructure in southern Lebanese villages meant that “civilians are living in a military compound” and that their lives were at risk. A few days later, a newspaper linked to Hezbollah bolstered the Israeli assessment.

[Photo: Times of Israel / YouTube ]