Israel warns UN and Lebanon on border violations
Israel urged United Nations peacekeeping forces and the Lebanese government on Monday to prevent Hezbollah militants and supporters from violating Israeli territory and threatening the fragile ceasefire.
In a letter sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the President of the UN Security Council Ruhakana Rugunda, Israel accused Indian troops, part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), of not acting to prevent demonstrators from crossing the Lebanon-Israel border. The letter also accused some troops of cooperating with demonstrators.
“(The demonstrators) stood opposite the UNIFIL force, (which did nothing), and worse than that, according to statements made by the organizers of the demonstration, they even cooperated with them,” Israeli ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev wrote.
The letter came in response to an incident last Friday in which fifteen Lebanese civilians crossed the UN-drawn Blue Line, the unofficial Lebanese boundary with Israel, waving Hezbollah flags. Though the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spotted them, the group returned to Lebanon voluntarily shortly after being spotted.
“Given the proximity of the violation to a UNIFIL position, Israel would have expected that UNIFIL intervene in time to prevent this violation,” Shalev write.
“Israel calls upon the government of Lebanon to exercise its authority and prevent such violations of the Blue Line that endanger the stability along our mutual border,” she added. “In addition, Israel calls upon the secretary-general to exercise his influence and to ensure that UNIFIL will prevent any future incidents from occurring.”
The latter also referenced recent incidents in Lebanon that has worried Israel. One was the explosion of a Hezbollah weapons cache on July 14 in Khirbet Slim, about 15 kilometers from the Israeli border. The other was a confrontation, also in Khirbet Slim, in which villagers threw stones at UN peacekeeping troops injuring 14 soldiers in attempt to prevent an investigation into the weapons cache explosion.
“The Lebanese army and UNIFIL must re-adapt their activity to the new reality in which Hezbollah is rebuilding its military infrastructure south of the Litani River within the civilian population,” Shalev wrote.