Iran

Israel to UN: Hezbollah Using Environmental Group to Hide Its Presence in South Lebanon

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon on Thursday demanded that the UN Security Council take action against the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, which is operating in southern Lebanon in violation of Security Council resolutions 1559 and 1701, Ynet reported.

Danon’s letter mentioned an April incident when members of United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) were denied access to an outpost operated by an environmental group, Green Without Borders, which appears to serve as a front for Hezbollah.

Danon’s letter also included photos and maps pinpointing the exact locations of a number outposts on the border with Israel and demanded that the council pressure the Lebanese government to expel Hezbollah from those locations.

“This evidence proves Hezbollah is working along the Blue Line under the guise of civilian activity, while violating UN Security Council resolutions 1701 and 1559,” Danon’s letter read. “Hezbollah continues to grow its strength in southern Lebanon and is threatening the stability of the entire region. The international community must not turn a blind eye to these dangerous threats.”

In January 2015, Israel asked the Security Council to condemn Hezbollah after a cross-border attack killed two of its soldiers, but the council refused to do so.

Israel’s head of military intelligence released footage and pictures of Hezbollah’s presence in southern Lebanon on Thursday.

Speaking at the Herzliya Conference, IDF intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Hertzl Halevi showed videos and photographs of Hezbollah’s installations in southern Lebanon, The Times of Israel reported.

“Hezbollah is using an environmental organization as a cover for activities along the border with Israel,” Halevi said. “Hezbollah blatantly violates UN Security Council Resolution 1701. We call on UNIFIL to undertake its responsibilities — not only in keeping the peace, but in removing the possibility of war.”

Israel has long criticized UNIFIL for failing to do its job and keep Hezbollah out of southern Lebanon.

Earlier this month, IDF Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi interrupted and rebuked UNIFIL’s head, Maj. Gen. Michael Beary, in front of U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley after Beary told Haley that the Israel’s border with Lebanon was stable and required no further intervention. Kochavi told Beary that UNIFIL was not doing its job and asked Haley to have the Security Council to upgrade UNIFIL’s mission, authorizing it 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.

Speaking at the Herzliya Conference earlier this week, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, the IDF’s chief of staff, said that Hezbollah was ensconced in some 240 villages and towns in southern Lebanon, and remains the most immediate threat to Israel. He added that Hezbollah has a presence in “every third or fourth house” in southern Lebanon.

Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, explained in July of last year 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 allow 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 ]