(December 19, 2018 / JNS)
After 12 years of denial and living a lie, the U.N. Security Council will today be forced to look reality squarely in the eyes. The discussion of Hezbollah’s attack tunnels will put an end to the masquerade it has been perpetrating about the Lebanese issue and mark the beginning of an era in which, we hope, the world will confront the truth about what is happening on Israel’s northern border.
Thus far, the world has preferred to ignore what Hezbollah is doing, in particular the organization’s blatant violation of two major aspects of Resolution 1701 by arming itself (mostly with rockets and missiles) and entrenching itself south of the Litani River. Israel has presented one proof after another, including concrete intelligence, that Hezbollah is lying, but its cries that the emperor has no clothes are met with total indifference. The world has opted to buy Hezbollah’s lie—knowing it’s a lie—to avoid the ramifications of the truth.
Israel’s exposure of the tunnels requires the world to change its ways. The fact that UNIFIL has signed an official announcement that tunnels have been dug into Israel from Lebanon is like the stamp of a court. It says: This is no longer an Israeli “claim,” an entity appointed by the Security Council itself is confirming what happened.
It was no easy task to secure that announcement. As soon as each tunnel was discovered, UNIFIL staff were brought in to confirm that tunnels had been found inside Israel, but at first, without proof, they refused to confirm that the tunnels had been dug from Lebanon. The Israel Defense Forces decided to follow the tunnels further, beneath the Blue Line that separates Israel from Lebanon itself, to prove that they had originated in Lebanon and excavated beneath the border. In the past few days, these excavations have been underway at two points. Cameras were lowered into the tunnels and the U.N. personnel were finally given incontrovertible proof that the tunnels led from Lebanon to Israel.
The proof put an end to debate. No one has any more doubts, and certainly not after a CNN news team visited the site and sent one of its own cameras down into the earth to document the Hezbollah scheme. All this was part of the struggle to convince the world that Israel is waging along with its operational efforts to eradicate the tunnel threat itself. On Tuesday, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit put out an English-language video aimed at the international community saying that Hezbollah’s activity was putting citizens of Lebanon as well as Israel in danger.
The UNSC will have all this information when it meets on Wednesday. It is unlikely to result in any resolution, to avoid a Russian veto, but for Israel, even a declaration condemning Hezbollah would be a good first step. Jerusalem would like to see changes to Resolution 1701 but officials understand that the process takes time and are willing to be content with international pressure on the Lebanese government, hoping that it will also exert pressure on Hezbollah that will cause the organization to suspend or change its military activity.
Only a cockeyed optimist would think that could work. The world is jaded, and the main subject of discussion in the Security Council won’t be the Hezbollah tunnels, it will be Christmas vacation and the fact that this will be the last UNSC meeting attended by outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. But Israel must persist—not only in its tunnel excavation work, but in its attempts to secure further discussion of the matter until effective action is taken.
Meanwhile, on the northern border, forces are still looking for more tunnels as authorities decide how best to eliminate the ones that have already been discovered and whether to demolish only the parts of the tunnels in Israeli territory or their entire length?
The exposed tunnels have shown that Hezbollah is employing a few different tactics. The first tunnel was carved out of rock, using hand tools; the second tunnel had been shored up using concrete, like the tunnels Hamas digs under the Gaza border. The difference accommodated the different types of ground.
One of the tunnels, which led to the city of Metula, will be preserved as a model. The IDF will construct orderly access to it, and it will become a site to which diplomats and foreign correspondents are regularly brought to see.
Yoav Limor is a veteran Israeli journalist and columnist for Israel Hayom.