Last week, Israel came within hours of a full-scale war on its border with Lebanon. This horrific situation was made possible through the malignant incompetence of the United Nations.
On Sept. 1, Hezbollah launched anti-tank missiles from Lebanon at an Israeli military vehicle near the border, damaging it slightly. Fortunately, no Israeli soldiers were killed or wounded. Had there been significant casualties, Israel would have had to respond much more aggressively than it did, which would have triggered a full-scale conflict.
And how is it that Hezbollah was able to maintain its missile arsenal in southern Lebanon? The answer is the utter failure of the United Nations to disarm the terrorist organization.
Despite its primary purpose of preventing war, the United Nations has consistently been its enabler in the Middle East. This most recent betrayal of the U.N.’s peace-keeping mission is just the latest in a seven-decade string of U.N. failures to maintain peace in the Middle East and globally.
Lebanon is now ruled by Hezbollah. Hezbollah is in turn funded and controlled by the mullahs of Iran and their hatchet-men, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Hezbollah became Iran’s principal military proxy in war-torn Syria years ago, and its extensive operations in that hellhole are planned and paid for by Iran.
Now that Syria has been largely bled dry by almost a decade of civil war, Hezbollah’s many well-trained fighters are streaming back to Lebanon. Many of the Hezbollah units remaining in Syria are now clustered on the Syria-Israel border, preparing for a second terror war against Israel. And Iran continues to attempt to smuggle into Lebanon vast quantities of advanced weaponry—including long-range precision missiles.
Israel’s 2006 Lebanon War ended with an armistice, theoretically to be enforced by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, UNIFIL. Under U.N. Security Council pact UNSCR 1701, UNIFIL was to enforce an arms embargo on Lebanon’s non-state actors—read: Hezbollah—focusing on the area north of its 80-mile boundary with Israel.
The thousands of imprecise, short-range rockets and mortars used by Hezbollah against northern Israeli civilian communities during the war were not to be replaced, and the estimated 10,000 still in the terrorist group’s possession were to be destroyed or removed.
Now, 13 years later—right under UNIFIL’s eyes—Hezbollah’s arsenal has increased to an estimated 180,000 missiles, many with precision guidance systems, some 10,000 of which reportedly have sufficient range to reach population centers in the heart of Israel.
Most of these missiles are either manufactured in Iran or created at Iranian facilities in Syria. From depots in Syria, the weapons are shipped to Hezbollah.
Israel recently exposed a Hezbollah precision-missile factory under construction in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Instead of thanking Israel for doing the U.N.’s job, UNIFIL condemned Israel for its drone sorties over Lebanon.
Last December and January, Israel uncovered a half-dozen tunnels under the Israel-Lebanon border. These were not primitive, one-man-at-a-time tunnels, but military invasion tunnels—tall, broad, well-fortified and capable of delivering attack vehicles from Lebanon into Israel. These elaborate tunnels were constructed literally under UNIFIL’s nose.
Though it interfered with Israel’s ability to investigate the tunnels on the Lebanese side of the border, UNIFIL surprisingly did manage to issue a report condemning the tunnels—without mentioning Hezbollah!
In fact, in none of its reports and publications since the 2006 Lebanon War has the name “Hezbollah” been used. A student of UNIFIL would have no idea that the terror group was the main reason for UNIFIL’s creation.
UNIFIL’s $450 million budget and 11,000 on-site “peacekeepers” have yet to discover any Hezbollah rockets or related sites, although many of them are literally yards away from UNIFIL bases in southern Lebanon.
But this avoidance of responsibility by UNIFIL is utterly consistent with all U.N. actions regarding Israel’s security since 1948.
Having voted to partition the British Mandate of Palestine, the U.N. did nothing to thwart the pan-Arab invasion of the new State of Israel.
After the Suez Campaign of 1956 and an Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula, Israel signed onto U.N. guarantees of a demilitarized Sinai—enforced by the U.N. Yet a decade later in 1967, Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser blockaded the Straits of Tiran and massed his troops and tanks for a genocidal war against Israel. Egypt requested that the U.N.’s peacekeepers be withdrawn, and U.N. Secretary General U Thant quickly removed the “guaranteed” force, thus enabling the Six-Day War.
Years later, the UNIFIL-supervised withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon turned into a frenzy of Hezbollah missile purchases and deployments that yielded the 2006 Lebanon War, in which over a hundred Israelis and 1,500 Lebanese lost their lives.
Clearly, it is suicidal for Israel to agree to any further role for the U.N. in its affairs. When things again get ugly in Lebanon—which will probably happen sooner rather than later—Israel must recognize that the U.N. is in league with its enemies, and minimize its involvement.
Always bear in mind that the once-promising U.N. of yesteryear has become the corrupt and inept U.N. of today—and has betrayed Israel time after time. Harebrained schemes involving “U.N. peacekeepers in the Jordan Valley” or, even more outlandish, “the internationalization of Jerusalem under U.N. auspices” are guaranteed to be disastrous for Israel and for any hope of a peaceful Middle East.
Ken Cohen is co-editor of the Hotline published by Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which offers educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.