Spying from Israel: Lebanon to file complaint with UN

Published November 12th, 2013 - 04:31 GMT
In an ongoing battle between the two countries, Lebanon is now taking UN action on spying threats from Israel. [haaretz]
In an ongoing battle between the two countries, Lebanon is now taking UN action on spying threats from Israel. [haaretz]

Lebanon will file a complaint with the U.N. Security Council over Israel’s installation of spying devices along the southern border, the head of Parliament’s Media and Telecommunications Committee said Monday.

“We agreed on the following: First, filing a complaint with the Security Council and sending a memo to international organizations and demanding that Israel be expelled from the International Telecommunication Union,” Hezbollah MP Hasan Fadlallah told reporters at Parliament after chairing a committee session.

“The committee listened to a detailed explanation from a ministerial committee that the government had formed in July 2013 and given a period of few months to complete a study on Israeli aggressions,” he added.

Monday’s meeting came after reports that Israel had installed surveillance posts along the border with Lebanon that have the capability to monitor the entire country.

Last week, Speaker Nabih Berri told visiting MPs that Israel was actively installing listening posts along the border with Lebanon, starting from the Naqoura passing by Khiam all the way to Shebaa.

“Israel has installed additional posts and antennas. There were 21 posts in 2010, now there are 39,” Fadlallah said.

He added that until the ministerial committee had finalized its work, relevant ministries had been asked to intensify efforts and reduce the dangers posed by the spying activities.

Fadlallah was unwilling to disclose any details about such preventative measures, saying only that the relevant sides with the technical know-how had been tasked to address the issue.

“At the technical level, we left the issue to relevant sides. We said that this issue should remain a state secret that we should all keep. We asked these relevant sides to assume their role because they have the needed technical capabilities and human resources,” Fadlallah said.

Fadlallah has been calling for fighting Israeli aggressions of this sort since 2010. “Some steps were made, but others should have been completed, and today we call for their completion,” he said.

Israel’s espionage activities violate U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, he said, a ruling which ended Israel’s 2006 war with Lebanon.

“It is unacceptable that this thing [violation] continues for so long. Unfortunately, if we had a strong and capable state without political disputes ... the enemy would not have dared do so,” Fadlallah said.

According to the committee’s explanation, the listening posts enable Israel to wiretap phone conversations and track people carrying cellphones.

Fadlallah said Israel’s spying devices were a danger to security institutions in Lebanon, including the military and financial sectors.

Explaining how it could affect the latter, he said the stations could be used to hack into banking networks.

“We consider that this is a national cause that targets everybody, and all our colleagues have discussed it as such,” he said.

“When the session began, the head of the ministerial committee ... asked us to keep our phones outside the hall ... to prevent attempts to spy on the sensitive information we were about to tackle,” Fadlallah said.

He called on all political parties in the country to keep the issue separate from political disputes.

Fadlallah said both March 8 and March 14 members of the committee agreed that the Israeli aggression should be confronted.

He added that deterring the aim of the spy stations was the responsibility of the state, and that Hezbollah had voiced a similar view.

“We asked the Cabinet to do this, and it is looking for means to protect Lebanese borders [from Israeli aggression],” he said.

Aside from the committee members, also taking part in the meeting were caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour, caretaker Telecommunications Minister Nicholas Sehnaoui, caretaker Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn and other telecommunications experts.

Future Movement MP Ammar Houri, a member of the parliamentary committee, dismissed accusations that March 14 groups did not condemn Israel’s spying activities.

He said that the Media and Telecommunications Committee, which includes March 14 MPs, had recommended in November 2010 that the Telecommunications Ministry, Army, Foreign Ministry, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority and other bodies take action against Israel’s spying activities.

For its part, the Kataeb party described the Israeli violation as dangerous, adding that it required swift action by the U.N. Security Council.

In a statement after the weekly meeting of its politburo, the party suggested that UNIFIL should take measures in cooperation with the Army to combat Israel’s spying activities.

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