PM gave press conference as UNSC meet on Hezbollah tunnel network; IDF gives update on Operation Northern Shield, confirms fourth tunnel; Netanyahu calls on UN to support Israel’s defense against Iranian-inspired and Iranian-conducted aggression.
Prime Minister Netanyahu gave a press conference addressing the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday as Israel presented evidence of Hezbollah’s terror tunnel network.
Ahead of his speech, IDF Spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus gave an update on Operation Northern Shield which entered its 15th day on Wednesday, confirming and exposing a fourth Hezbollah tunnel discovered over the weekend. The tunnel was built from west Ramyeh in Lebanon and entered Israeli territory. He reported increased activity along the border and warned the terror organization “We are aware of Hezbollah’s attack plans against Israel. Operation Northern Shield will continue as long as possible to neutralize Hezbollah’s tunnels using both overt and covert methods.”
Netanyahu gave an update on Operation Northern Shield following the IDF’s presentation. He referred to the violations of international law, as well as the UN peacekeeping forces’ confirmation of the tunnel network. He stated “This is not merely an act of aggression; it’s an act of war. It is part of a war plan I would say… UNIFIL has confirmed the existence of these tunnels and they have said that they represent a clear violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701.”
He spoke of Iran’s funding and support of terror against Israel in Lebanon, reiterating to the press “Hezbollah is doing all this because Iran supports it in every way, including with money. Money that it got from the flawed Iranian deal. And this is part of the Iranian web of aggression.” He again accused Hezbollah of a double war crime as it is “targeting Israeli civilians while hiding behind Lebanese civilians.”
Netanyahu criticized the Lebanese army for not acting to prevent Hezbollah’s terror on Israel’s border, stating “they are either unable or unwilling or both to do anything about this. But it doesn’t absolve Lebanon’s culpability… Their territory is being used to dig terror tunnels, to terrorize, kidnap and murder our citizens. Therefore, we hold Lebanon accountable.”
The prime minister then called on the global community, specifically the Security Council, to hold Hezbollah, Iran and Lebanon accountable, referring to the security situation as not only a “violation of our sovereignty and our security, but a grave violation of any nation’s security.” He called on the UN to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and place sanctions, as well as to support Israel’s right to defend itself “against Iranian-inspired and Iranian-conducted aggression.”
He specifically called on UNIFIL to “meet its mandate and deepen its operations” including UN access to all areas of southern Lebanon for inspections so that UNIFIL has “the ability to get to any area quickly, before they cover-up and destroy the evidence.” He called on Hezbollah and the Lebanese army to end its restrictions on peace keeping forces access in southern Lebanon and that UNIFIL report any and all violations to both the UN and Israel.
Referring to Nikki Haley’s condemnation at the UN Security Council on Tuesday, he repeated her words that Hezbollah continues “jeopardizing the safety of the Lebanese people and violating Israel’s sovereignty.” Netanyahu also thanked the United States for its “unequivocal stand against Hezbollah and pushing for the Security Council to hold this urgent meeting,” in reference to the Council’s meeting Wednesday.
He ended his address, reiterating that in the meantime “Israel will continue to take all the necessary action to protect our people and to defend our borders.”
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