Ban Ki-moon: Hezbollah's Launch of Iranian Drone Into Israel Could Lead to Regional War

UN report blasts militant group for 'threatening Lebanon's stability,' involvement in Syria conflict; also criticizes Israel for violating Lebanese airspace.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon submitted an especially harsh report on the situation in Lebanon, including sharp criticism of Hezbollah, to the 15-member Security Council on Thursday.

The report, a copy of which was attained by Haaretz, warned that the Iranian drone launched into Israel by the organization earlier this month was a “reckless provocation” which could lead to a regional conflict.

The author of the report is Terje Rod-Larsen, the Secretary General’s special envoy for the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559, passed in 2004, which called for the withdrawal of the Syrian forces from Lebanon, the disbanding of all militias and the extension of the Lebanese government’s control over all Lebanese territory.

While the Syrian army did indeed leave Lebanon, Hezbollah and the Palestinian organizations did not disarm.

The report contains unprecedented criticism of Hezbollah, accusing the organization of involvement in Syria and warning that Hezbollah’s military capabilities “represent a key challenge to the safety of Lebanese civilians and to the government’s monopoly on the legitimate use of force.”

Hezbollah is the most significant armed militia in Lebanon, “reaching almost the capacities of a regular army,” the report notes.

“The maintenance by Hezbollah of sizeable sophisticated military capabilities outside the control of the government of Lebanon remains a matter of grave concern,” the report states, “particularly as it creates an atmosphere of intimidation in the country [and] constitutes a threat to regional peace and stability. I urge Hezbollah not to engage in any militant activity inside or outside of Lebanon.”

Regarding the launch of the Iranian drone into Israel on October 6, the report calls it “a reckless provocation that could lead to a dangerous escalation threatening Lebanon’s stability.”

Ban added: “I call yet again upon the leadership of Hezbollah to disarm and limit its activities to that of a Lebanese political party In a democratic state, it is a fundamental anomaly that a political party maintains its own militia.”

The secretary general called on the Lebanese government to use its army to take all necessary steps to foil Hezbollah's attempts at further armament and prevent it from developing military power “outside the authority of the state.”

Ban also accused Iran of arming the organization, saying: “Hezbollah maintains close ties with a number of regional states, in particular with the Islamic Republic of Iran... I call upon these states to encourage the transformation of the armed group into a solely political party and its disarmament.”

The report states that Hezbollah is involved in the Syrian civil war, fighting alongside the forces of the Assad regime. Citing credible reports, it points out that “such militant activities by Hezbollah in Syria contradict and undermine the dissociation policy of the government of Lebanon, of which Hezbollah is a coalition member. However, I am increasingly concerned that the increasing number of reports of activities in Syria by Hezbollah, a member of the governing coalition, could jeopardize this policy and ultimately Lebanon’s stability.”

The report also criticizes Israel and calls for halting the flight of Israel Air Force jets in Lebanese airspace. “I deplore Israel’s continued violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. I call upon Israel to cease its overflights of Lebanese airspace that undermine the credibility of Lebanese security services, and generate anxiety among the civilian population. They also greatly increase the risk of unintended consequences in a region that is already seething with tension.”

UN Secretary General Ban ki-MoonCredit: AP
Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah (center), escorted by his bodyguards, greets his supporters at an anti-U.S. protest in Beirut's southern suburbs, Sept. 17, 2012.Credit: Reuters

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