(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Israel received messages from France and the U.S. Tuesday that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) will be required to aggressively keep the Hezbollah terror group's activities in check this year.
According to a senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official, the change was set to be adopted Thursday, upon the renewal of UNIFIL's mandate.
Since the end of the Second Lebanon War in 2006, the mandate set by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 ends every year and is renewed automatically. This year, the Security Council will demand that UNIFIL no longer turn a blind eye to Hezbollah's violations of the resolution, which include concealing weapons and troop movement as well as denying UNIFIL's requests to monitor certain areas believed to be weapons stockpile sites.
Israeli defense officials believe the restricted area is being used by Hezbollah to store rockets and missiles. These areas are better known in Israeli military circles as "nature reserves."
France, which holds the UNIFIL portfolio in the Security Council, said that if UNIFIL is again denied entry to certain areas, it will report the development directly to the 15-member forum.
Israel asked the Security Council to expand the peacekeeping force's authority and change the way it operates so that UNIFIL will stop ignoring the activities of the Iranian-backed Shi'a terrorist group.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said last week that UNIFIL is blind to the actions of Hezbollah.
UNIFIL Commander Maj. Gen. Michael Beary insisted his force has no evidence of weapons being illegally transferred and stockpiled in the area, adding that "if there was a large cache of weapons, we would know about it.” In response, Haley said, "Gen. Beary says there are no Hezbollah weapons. That's an embarrassing lack of understanding of what's going on around him."