(August 19, 2020 / JNS) IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said on Tuesday that Hezbollah “has become a terror army operating in Beirut,” preventing UNIFIL, the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon, from fulfilling its mandate.
“Hezbollah is accumulating weapons and preventing supervision by UNIFIL forces,” said Kochavi. “Hezbollah is grossly violating international law, continues to grow in strength, arms itself with precision weapons and tries to harm the State of Israel,” he added.
Kochavi’s remarks come ahead of a U.N. Security Council vote on Aug. 31 to renew UNIFIL’s mandate. Israel, backed by the United States, has been pushing for the peacekeeping force’s effectiveness to be increased.
The United States is threatening to veto a resolution to extend the peacekeeping mission if its mandate is not changed, Axios reported on Aug. 12, citing Israeli and U.S. officials.
The Trump administration says Hezbollah is restricting UNIFIL’s access and movements, and has been demanding greater freedom of movement for the U.N. force, as well as upgraded weapons, as recommended by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, as well as a greater presence on the Israeli-Lebanese border, according to the report.
“Hezbollah openly flaunts its weaponry” and “dictates to UNIFIL where and when it can patrol,” said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft in an address to the UNSC on May 4.
If the U.N. Security Council does not extend UNIFIL’s mandate at the end of August, the peacekeeping mission will end immediately.
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