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Israel urges UN action over Hezbollah 'attack tunnels'

Israel's ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon speaks during a Security Council meeting on the situation in Gaza, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018 at United Nations headquarters.
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
Netanyahu also made a statement Wednesday urging the UN Security Council to condemn Hezbollah

At the request of Israel and the United States, the United Nations Security Council sat down for a discussion on the Hezbollah tunnels recently exposed on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon.

The Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon called on the Security Council to not only do everything in its power to punish and prevent Hezbollah’s activity but to acknowledge the Lebanese military’s complicity.

IDanon accused the Lebanese Army of warning the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah ahead of the UNIFIL visit, enabling “the terrorist organization to conceal the tunnel’s operations and thwart Israel’s defensive actions,” he said.

“Israel gave UNIFIL precise information about the location of the tunnel. After UNIFIL told the Lebanese army, it was then stopped when it tried to reach the area,” explained Danon.

The Israeli representative shared pictures of the tunnels, showing barbed fence and bricks that Hezbollah allegedly planted after learning of UNIFIL”s arrival following Israel’s exposure.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also made a statement Wednesday urging the UN Security Council to condemn Hezbollah for digging cross-border "attack tunnels" and to demand Lebanon prevent such activity from its territory.

"I call on all the members of the Security Council to condemn Hezbollah's wanton acts of aggression, to designate Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organisation, to press for heightened sanctions against Hezbollah," Netanyahu told foreign media in the Israeli parliament.

Ali DIA (AFP/File)

Israel also wanted the Security Council "to demand that Lebanon stop allowing its territory to be allowed to be used as an act of aggression and its citizens to be used as pawns, to support Israel's right to defend itself against Iranian inspired and Iranian conducted aggression," he said.

The army on Wednesday transported journalists in armored vehicles to film one of the tunnels just dozens of meters (yards) from the Lebanese border near the Israeli town of Metula.

The media trip came two weeks after the army announced the launch of an operation dubbed "Northern Shield" to destroy tunnels it said have been dug under the border by Hezbollah.

The tunnel shown to journalists appeared to extend around 40 meters inside Israeli territory. An exit point was not seen, only an access hole that had been dug above it.

Bulldozers were at work in the mud nearby close to the concrete barrier which Israel has built along the border. Concrete was being poured into several holes that had been excavated.

"We'll stay here until we've finished. It took Hezbollah years to construct these tunnels. Our operation will set them back years," a military official told journalists, asking not to be named.

Israel fought a devastating war against Hezbollah in 2006 that was halted by a UN-brokered truce.

Hezbollah is the only group in Lebanon not to have disarmed after the country's 1975-1990 civil war.

Netanyahu called the tunnels "an act of war" and accused the Lebanese government of not preventing their creation.

"The Lebanese government, which should be the first to challenge this and protest this, is doing nothing at best, and colluding at worst," he said.

Netanyahu noted that UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping force in south Lebanon, has confirmed the existence of four tunnels, stressing that it must be given swift and "unlimited access" to observe and document them.

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