The Lebanese Army helped Hezbollah militants destroy evidence of its continued military activity in the south of the country after a hidden arms cache exploded there earlier this week, Israel's envoy to the United Nations has charged in an official complaint.
In a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Gabriela Shalev described the abandoned building in which the explosion took place as "an arms cache that consisted of Hezbollah arms, including rockets, mortars, artillery shells, grenades, and additional ammunition which had been brought to the area following the Second Lebanon War."
According to Shalev, the incident proves that Hezbollah has been acting in violation of UN Resolution 1701, which called for a cease-fire in southern Lebanon after the 2006 conflict.
"This recent explosion is a glaring example of Hezbollah's use of civilian infrastructure," Shalev wrote. "With more than 20,000 rockets in its possession south of the Litani River, Hezbollah gravely endangers the local Lebanese civilian population by turning their houses into military bunkers and storages."
According to Shalev, this incident was one of a number of similar instances in which Hezbollah has violated the cease-fire agreement, which calls for the complete absence of weapons and non-UNIFIL military in the zone between the blue line and the Litani River, and kept its arsenal intact. In her letter to Ban, she cited similar instances as having occurred in March 2008 and January 2009.
"Unfortunately, such obstruction is not an isolated incident and reflects a pattern in which Hezbollah uses various means - including so-called 'civilians' - in order to prevent UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces from fulfilling their mandate," she wrote.
Following the explosion, Shalev wrote, UNIFIL forces were delayed by Lebanese troops to enable Hezbollah to rid the area of evidence. This assistance, said Shalev, has made the violations "all the more severe because an official organ of the Lebanese state - the Lebanese Army - delayed UNIFIL from fulfilling its obligations. As such, this obstruction of movement must be denounced in very clear and robust terms."
"All of these flagrant violations of resolution 1701 - inter alia, the arms smuggling and the obstruction of movement of UNIFIL forces - must be denounced and addressed in clear and unambiguous terms by the international community," wrote Shalev.
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