Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon shared an aerial photograph with the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday that showed a “private compound” in the southern part of Kfar Kila, about 80 meters from the international Blue Line, from which an underground attack tunnel crossed the border into Israel, passing close to a UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) observation post.
“Israel gave UNIFIL precise information about the locale of the tunnel,” Danon said.
“After UNIFIL told the Lebanese army, it was then stopped when it tried to reach the area. Sources within the Lebanese army informed Hezbollah about the information, which enabled the terrorist organization to conceal the tunnel’s operations and thwart Israel’s defensive actions.
“Lebanese army officials are working for Hezbollah,” Danon added, “while UNIFIL is not working to fulfill its mandate in the region in the necessary manner.”
Danon revealed an additional aerial photograph of the Lebanese town of Kfar Kila, in which he showed documentation of Hezbollah’s terrorist infrastructure, including two tunnels that penetrated the border into Israel, along with observation posts and information gathering and weapons storage areas.
“Hezbollah has built a terror base inside a civilian population, with its end on the Israeli side of the border, all financed by Iran,” the ambassador said. “This not only a clear violation of Resolution 1701, but Hezbollah also uses Lebanese civilians as human shields.
“If Hezbollah dares to attack Israel, it will bring ruin to Lebanon.”
Following is the transcript of Danon’s complete address to the UN Security Council.
Remarks by Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon to UN Security Council Session 19 December 2018 – As Delivered
Thank you, Mr. President.
Imagine a crisp, fall morning in northern Israel – in Metula. Farmers working in their fields. Boys and girls walking to school. Neighbors wishing each other “Boker Tov” – good morning – and going about their days.
Metula is surrounded by the Lebanese border. But the town lives in calm and quiet.
Until the terror starts.
Suddenly, a force of 250 Hezbollah terrorists from the elite Radwan unit emerge from the end of a cross-border terror tunnel. This tunnel spans from Kfar Kela, Lebanon, directly into Metula, Israel. It was built to enable this large group of Hezbollah terrorists to move swiftly across the border underground. The tunnels are wide enough for Radwan terrorists to march two-by-two into Israel.
Hezbollah’s Radwan forces will use this tunnel to invade Israel and take over Metula. Its terrorists will kill civilians – children and the elderly. Then, it will close Road Ninety, the highway connecting Metula with the rest of the Galilee, holding Metula under siege.
But now, imagine this tragic scenario multiplied five times over. Imagine Hezbollah’s Radwan terrorists using five different tunnels to enter five other towns in Israel – Qiriat Shmona, Avivim, Zar’it, Adamit, Manara; killing innocent Israeli civilians; kidnapping them and taking over parts of the Galilee.
Hezbollah calls this strategic and operational plan, titled, “Conquering the Galilee.” It is a ground attack. But Hezbollah does not stop there. Hezbollah shoots thousands of rockets and missiles into northern Israel. It launches anti-tank missiles that could easily hit a bus full of children. It seizes control of northern Israel’s major roads and highways. It uses Shiite militias, together with the Radwan forces, to cross the Blue Line into Israel, overcome obstacles Israel has set in their way, and send a swarm of military inflatable boats from which to launch terror attacks against Israel by sea.
This is not just a figment of the imagination.
But, Mr. President, we will never allow this to happen.
Through an extensive intelligence operation, Israel monitored Hezbollah’s widespread terror tunnel project, spanning from Lebanon into Israel’s sovereign territory, and underneath the Blue Line.
On December 4, 2018, Israel initiated Operation Northern Shield. This operation is a protective measure to prevent the possibility of such a grave reality from ever taking place. It is a preemptive logistical operation on our side of the Blue Line.
The goal was and remains to neutralize and destroy Hezbollah’s terror tunnels. The IDF has reported the existence, so far, of four terror tunnels in four separate geographical locations that begin in Lebanon and infiltrate Israel. Israel has informed its partners about this extensive operation and has also provided the UNIFIL with full information about the tunnels. Throughout all of this, Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, has remained oddly silent.
Two days ago, UNIFIL confirmed the existence of these terror tunnels. UNIFIL stated clearly that Hezbollah’s activities constitute a violation of Security Council Resolution 1701 and are a matter of serious concern.
Israel transferred all of the information to UNIFIL. We even provided the exact coordinates of the opening of the tunnels on the Lebanese side.
What did we expect UNIFIL to do with that information?
1. Take control of the area.
2. Destroy the tunnels.
3. Follow its mandate.
But what did UNIFIL do? It passed all of the information to the Lebanese Army.
The Lebanese Army could have:
1. Worked with UNIFIL to remove Hezbollah completely from the area.
2. Destroyed the tunnels.
3. Done its job to keep its people safe.
But what did the Lebanese Army do? It sent the information directly to Hezbollah!
Hezbollah then sealed the tunnels. It tried to cover the evidence!
Here you have a picture of the inside of a Hezbollah terror attack tunnel, on our side. As you can see, Hezbollah has placed a fence and bricks inside the tunnel in an attempt to seal it. We don’t expect that to happen. That Hezbollah will get information and then send a terrorist to go block the tunnel.
UNIFIL has one primary responsibility – and I quote from its mandate: “to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind.”
Israel has revealed to UNIFIL that Major Yahya Husseini, a high-ranking member of the Lebanese Army, is using his position to advance the interests of Hezbollah. This is not the first instance of cooperation between the terrorist group and the Lebanese Army. Husseini is part of a liaison network between the Lebanese Army and Hezbollah. The Lebanese Army even promoted him.
The Lebanese Armed Forces, the so-called “official” military of Lebanon, is supposed to ensure calm and stability in the region. There are 10,000 soldiers in the Lebanese armed forces. They, along with more than 11,000 UNIFIL peacekeepers have one objective: to prevent Hezbollah from terrorizing the area. Yet, somehow, Hezbollah, with less than 10,000 terrorists, has full control of the area.
The Lebanese Army has chosen to work with Hezbollah. It does this in two ways – by giving Hezbollah information that helps the terror group’s efforts, and by preventing UNIFIL from carrying out its mandate in the region.
We hear with great concern, but with no surprise, that the Lebanese Army is not giving UNIFIL full access to the coordinates provided by Israel, and is not stopping Hezbollah from confronting UNIFIL forces on the ground.
Let me be abundantly clear: Hezbollah’s activities are a flagrant and unacceptable violation of Security Council Resolution 1701 and the Blue Line. They also violate the UN Charter and international law.
In order for the new commander of UNIFIL, Major General Del Col, to succeed in his role, UNIFIL cannot make the same mistakes it did under the previous commander. Israel has informed UNIFIL, time and again, of Hezbollah’s terror activities. But they have never appeared in the 38 reports on Resolution 1701. 38 reports!
I spoke here at the Security Council and exposed Hezbollah’s violations. In June of 2017, I visited the northern border with Major General Beary, the former commander of UNIFIL, together with IDF officials. On that day, he said, and I quote, “The region is calm. The situation is good. There is no need for change.” Direct quote.
Today, no one can deny the facts.
In this picture, you can see the tunnel crossing the Blue Line, almost directly underneath a UNIFIL observation point. You can see the tunnel crossing the border, and midway is a UNIFIL observation point.
When a terror attack tunnel runs from a private property and under the Blue Line, the region is not calm! The situation is not good. There must be a change.
UNIFIL could not even enter certain sections of its own mandated area of operations!
UNIFIL must be granted full access to all of its area of operations, including the private properties and nature reserves that Hezbollah is using for terror. For example, Hezbollah has conducted operations behind the guise of a mock-NGO known as “Green Without Borders.” People in this room have seen these operations with their own eyes.
Israel calls on UNIFIL to carry out its full mandate under Security Council Resolution 2433 and maintain regional security. The world has expectations of UNIFIL that it must meet.
The Security Council must designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization – just as it designated ISIL, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
The international community must condemn Hezbollah in the strongest terms and stand by Israel’s self-defensive measures.
It is the expectation that Lebanon will eliminate these terror tunnels and prevent the building of future attack tunnels that threaten Israel. Israel will continue Operation Northern Shield to neutralize the threat of the tunnels. We have the full right, like any other nation in the world, to defend ourselves, our sovereignty, and our people.
Hezbollah’s severe violations of Resolution 1701 do not end with its terror tunnel project. Unfortunately, the terror tunnels reflect just a small part of Hezbollah’s illegal activities in southern Lebanon.
Hezbollah is building military capabilities and infrastructure with the ultimate goal of using them to attack Israel.
Take Kfar Kela – a Lebanese town of close to 15,000 people. Their houses have been turned into bunkers. Their schools have become weapons storage facilities.
I ask the distinguished ambassador of Lebanon – look what you have allowed Hezbollah to do in southern Lebanon. Why are you putting your own people in danger?
Not only is Hezbollah violating Resolution 1701, but it is also exploiting the innocent civilians of southern Lebanon as human shields.
I will share with you the evidence. For the first time, we reveal this information.
This is Kfar Kela.
In this aerial photo that we are revealing today, you can see the complete transformation of this village into a terror terminal. All the dots are bunkers for storing weapons.
This is where the tunnels start, in the village, on private property.
Hezbollah has built a terror terminal from Kfar Kela into Israel. It stores weaponry and builds command and control centers.
This is reality. Imagine what will happen to this village in case we will have to defend ourselves.
Hezbollah has also established the foundation for launching attacks against Israel, using civilian homes as command and control centers; turning civilian and private infrastructure into weapons armories; and building elaborate operational capabilities inside villages, forests and parks.
These violations reflect just the backdrop of Hezbollah’s illegal activities in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah has stockpiled thousands of rockets and missiles within these areas.
That is the reality on the ground.
What does the international community honestly expect Israel to do in the face of this grave danger?
The Lebanese ambassador called to condemn Israel. We appreciate her concern for the Lebanese people, especially in Kfar Kela, as she mentioned in her December 6th letter to the Council. But she represents a government that allows Iran and its proxies to turn Lebanon into a launching pad for terror.
The Lebanese government is endangering its own people, by simply doing nothing.
How have you allowed Hezbollah to build an underground city of tunnels that places the citizens of Lebanon in constant danger? There are no expectations for a terrorist organization to act appropriately, but where was your government? What has your government done to prevent Hezbollah from triggering a regional war?
Hezbollah is hijacking the entire State of Lebanon to attack Israel, and the Government of Lebanon has surrendered. By closing its eyes, as its people live inside a ticking time bomb of terror tunnels, missiles and rockets, the Government of Lebanon has failed its people.
Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, revealed that Hezbollah has placed at least three precision missile conversion sites directly beside Beirut’s international airport.
Hezbollah is building its own precision missile production capabilities. Hezbollah is now holding over 100,000 rockets and missiles across Lebanon.
You may wonder how Hezbollah – a terrorist organization – could get away with this. The answer is simple.
One – Hezbollah is now, more than ever, paralyzing and eroding the pillars of the state of Lebanon with its ever-growing grip on power.
Two – Iran. As Nasrallah said himself, and I quote, “We are open about the fact that Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, come from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Iran is the lifeblood of Hezbollah – ideologically, financially, military, and even culturally.
Based on piling evidence and reports, Iran is not only transferring game-changing weapons to Lebanon through the border with Syria. But, in flagrant violation of numerous Security Council resolutions, Iran is now transporting these weapons on commercial planes landing in Beirut’s international airport.
After its joint campaign of killing in Syria, Iranian fighters, Shiite militias and Hezbollah terrorists, specifically the Radwan unit, are joining forces once again – this time, against Israel.
Before I conclude, let me be crystal clear: if Hezbollah makes the mistake of attacking Israel, opposing our actions or violating our sovereignty, make no mistake – Israel will act. We will act swiftly. We will act by land, by air, by sea. We will act with our full force and might.
If there is a war that must be fought for Israel to defend itself against Hezbollah’s terrorism, the world will say, as it always does, “how could this have been prevented?”
Well, today is when that future war could have been prevented, with this body acting as it is charged to do, calling out these flagrant violations of international law, and acting, finally and decisively.
Israel is protecting itself. Operation Northern Shield ensures the safety of our people.
Israel has no intention to escalate the situation. But we are not naïve. As the famous playwright Anton Chekhov once said, “if you place a gun in the first act, it must fire in the last.”
Hezbollah’s terror tunnels and missiles were not created without purpose. They were created for Hezbollah to use against us. And if Hezbollah will have the arrogance to attack Israel, we will bury it in the rubble of Lebanon.
We will never let terror win.