UNIFIL Spokesperson: New Wall Is on Israeli Side of Lebanese Border

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A UNIFIL liaison in Naqura, Lebanon as an Israeli excavator digs, February 8. 2018
A UNIFIL liaison in Naqura, Lebanon as an Israeli excavator digs, February 8. 2018Credit: MAHMOUD ZAYYAT/AFP

Andrea Tenenti, a spokesperson for UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon), said Tuesday that the wall Israel is building along two sections of the border with Lebanon is on the Israeli side of the Blue Line, the unofficial border between the two countries that was established after Israel’s 2000 withdrawal, in areas that are not sensitive

Tenenti was speaking with the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation, also known as TRT. He added that the parties held regular discussions on the Israeli construction work.

Last week Lebanese leaders said they would act in the region and in the international community to stop Israel from building and from carrying out oil and gas exploration in Israel’s territorial waters, which Beirut views as theft of its natural resources. In a joint statement, Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said they had met to study recent “Israeli threats, and saw in them... a direct threat to the stability” of the border region.

The new fence, which will replace an existing barrier, is being built in two sections along the border with Lebanon – between Metula and Misgav Am in the east, and between the area of Hanita and Rosh Hanikra in the west.

The border fence has barely been maintained since the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon almost 18 years ago, and the army has said that it is in very poor condition in parts. The state has allocated 123 million shekels ($34.8 million) for the project, which should be completed before the end of the year. In places where homes adjacent to the border are under a direct threat of sniper fire or anti-tank missiles, the barrier will take the form of a wall.

The fence, seven meters high and topped with concertina wire, is similar to that built around five years ago in southern Israel, along the border with Egypt’s Sinai.

Attempts to calm the situation are taking place on two channels – the tripartite committee with UNIFIL and the U.S. administration, with the mediation of the State Department’s David Satterfield.

Despite the growing tension, Israel believes that neither the Lebanese government nor Hezbollah seek a confrontation over the border issue. A real source of tension is the existence of weapons plants and the possibility that the army will use force to thwart Iran’s plans, a move that could lead to a violent response by Hezbollah.

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