U.S., Israel Pressuring UN to Increase Monitoring of Hezbollah, Lebanese Report Says

According to Hezbollah-linked Al-Akhbar newspaper, Washington and Jerusalem want peacekeepers to increase patrols in southern Lebanon and are pushing the UN to boost inspections in the area

Israeli soldiers block a tunnel in Metula during Operation Northern Shield, December 2018.
Gil Eliyahu

Sources in Lebanon have accused the U.S. and Israeli governments of pressuring the UN to begin monitoring Hezbollah's activity south of the Litani River, the Al-Akhbar newspaper, which is linked to the Iran-backed Shi'ite group, reported on Friday.

According to the report, the UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) has in recent weeks received instructions to begin patrolling areas that were previously not subject to patrols.

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The newspaper's sources alleged that this is the result of American and Israeli pressure to keep Hezbollah forces as far as possible from the border with Israel, and that similar pressure led to the insertion of the term "inspections" into the description of UNIFIL's mission in the 2017 resolution extending its mandate.

The report further claimed that the UN headquarters instructed UNIFIL to add fifteen new patrols – ten in the eastern sector of the territory it patrols, and five in the western sector – to inspect areas that Israel claims Hezbollah uses to hide rocket and missile batteries.  

On Friday, UNIFIL confirmed the existence of a third tunnel crossing the Lebanon-Israel border in violation of the cease-fire resolution that ended the Second Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006.

Israel says the frontier tunnels are a tactic used by Hezbollah in previous wars and has called on the international community to impose new sanctions on the Lebanese militant group.

Meanwhile UNIFIL says it informed Lebanese authorities about the violation and requested follow-up actions.

Israel in January wrapped up Operation Northern Shield which aimed to destroy the part of the tunnels stretching into Israel.

Reuters contributed to this report.