Netanyahu: Lebanon Wasn't Aware of Hezbollah Tunnels, but Should Now 'Neutralize Them'

Speaking with foreign media ahead of UN Security Council meeting, the prime minister says he asked Putin not to support or stay neutral on Hezbollah

UN peacekeepers hold their flag while standing next to Hezbollah and Lebanese flags, near the border with Israel, December 13, 2018.
Hussein Malla,AP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that the Lebanese Army, to the best of Israel's knowledge, was not aware of the tunnels being dug by Hezbollah from Lebanon into Israel, but noted that Israel sees Lebanon responsible for demolishing them.

Speaking at a press conference to foreign media ahead of a UN Security Council session on the discovery of the Hezbollah tunnels, Netanyahu called on the international community to hold Lebanon accountable for the tunnels.

Netanyahu's press briefing ahead of UN Security Council on Hezbollah

>> Israel takes tunnel op to world stage before potential use of unprecedented force / Analysis

"[N]ow they know and they should be there to uncover and neutralize them," Netanyahu said. "The Lebanese government, which should be the first to challenge this and to protest this, is doing nothing at best and colluding at worst. That's the truth."

When asked about the Hezbollah missile plants he exposed during his speech before the UN General Assembly, Netanyahu said, "Yes, these three sites were shut down by Hezbollah" following his address.

Netanyahu delivers a statement ahead of a UN Security Council discussion on Hezbollah's tunnels into Israel, Jerusalem, December 19, 2018.

Netanyahu said that he appreciates the U.S. for taking a stance against Hezbollah and urging the Security Council to hold the emergency meeting on Wednesday and called on "all members of the Security Council to condemn Hezbollah's wanton acts of aggression," designate it as a terrorist group, impose sanctions against it, and support Israel's right to defend itself.

Netanyahu told the reporters that, in recent days, ahead of the Security Council meeting, he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin and asked him to take a stand against Hezbollah, "to condemn Hezbollah and not to support them or be neutral."

The prime minister said he was pleased with the recent UNIFIL report which documents "Hezbollah aggression against us," adding he felt it was "a long time coming."