Russia on Hezbollah Tunnels: Israel Has a Right to Protect Itself, but Should Respect UN Resolution

Foreign Ministry calls on Israel to show 'the necessary responsibility and restraint' and to 'avoid provocative steps'

Israeli soldier guards near the border with Lebanon, Metula, December 5, 2018.
Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

Russia issued a statement on Wednesday supporting an Israeli operation, launched a day earlier, to demolish cross-border Hezbollah tunnels from Lebanon. Russia's Foreign Ministry also called on Israel not to violate UN Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the war between Israel and Lebanon in 2006 and urged Israel to respect Lebanon's sovereignty.

"No doubt that Israel has the right to protect its national security, including to prevent the illegal entry of anyone into the country. At the same time, we hope that the actions taken for this purpose will not conflict with UNSC resolution 1701," Russia's Embassy in Israel tweeted.

"We expect that UNIFIL deployed in the blue line area will fulfill its mission and will not allow violations," the embassy added, referring to the United Nations peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon. "We call on all parties to show the necessary responsibility and restraint, to avoid provocative steps and harsh statements that can further aggravate the tense situation."

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Following the announcement of the campaign, Israeli military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, said that the demolition of Hezbollah tunnels may not only be limited to Israeli territory, implying that Israel will have to also destroy the tunnels from the Lebanese side of the border.

"We have to prepare for all scenarios of neutralizing the tunnels," Israel Defense Forces spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, told reporters. "Some of [the scenarios] will not be in our territory and this is something we are preparing for."

Lebanese National News Agency reported that a tripartite meeting between representatives of the Lebanese Army, the Israeli military and UNIFIL was slated for Wednesday morning at the northern Rosh Hanikra border crossing. The meeting, according to the report, is set to discuss the Israel's Operation Northern Shield and its activities in Lebanese territory.