Israel is trying to pressure the members of the Security Council to expand the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon to include the military posts that Hezbollah has placed along the border, hidden inside cargo containers, where the peace force is denied access.
The UNIFIL mandate, established in 2006, is renewed annually by the Security Council. According to Security Council resolution 1701, UNIFIL, in addition to carrying out its 1978 mission under resolutions 425 and 426, is empowered to monitor the cessation of hostilities following the Second Lebanon War; support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy along the Blue Line; extend its assistance to civilian populations and displaced persons; help demilitarize the Israeli-Lebanese border; and assist the Lebanese government in preventing entry without its consent of arms or related materiel.
Feverish discussions are currently taking place, away from the Lebanese border, ahead of the renewal of the UNIFIL mandate, as happens every year at the end of August. But this year there are bigger concerns due to the growing provocations of Hezbollah along the Blue Line. Knowledgeable sources told Kan11 News that in recent days the Israeli delegation has urged the members of the UN Security Council to address the shipping containers that Hezbollah placed on the Blue Line, which constitute military compounds for all intents and purposes.
Dozens of shipping containers have been positioned there by the Lebanese purported environmental activist group Green Without Borders, which Israel has long been claiming, and offering documented proof to show that they are manned by Hezbollah terrorists. Those container compounds provide Hezbollah with strategic monitoring positions and serve as cover for warehouses and munitions storage tunnels which UNIFIL soldiers are barred from inspecting.
On Wednesday, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Green Without Borders a terrorist organization, stating: “Green Without Borders is a Lebanon-based organization that has provided support to and cover for Hezbollah’s operations in southern Lebanon along the ‘Blue Line’ between Lebanon and Israel over the last decade while publicly operating under the guise of environmental activism. OFAC is designating Green Without Borders and its leader, Zuhair Subhi Nahla, pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as amended, which targets terrorists, terrorist organizations, leaders and officials of terrorist groups, and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism.”
France, which holds the Lebanon portfolio in the UNSC, is rumored to propose that UNIFIL will have access to the containers under its new mandate, but inspections would have to be coordinated with the Lebanese army. Israel is arguing, and several UNSC members agree, that any measure that limits UNIFIL’s ability to carry out its peacekeeping mission would inevitably embolden Hezbollah and encourage the terrorist group to embark on even more provocative actions.
In December 2022, an Irish soldier serving in UNIFIL was killed and another seriously wounded in a gun attack when their unit was surrounded by a hostile crowd in south Lebanon. The incident happened when a convoy of two armored utility vehicles with UN markings drove near the village of al-Aqbieh which is just outside UNIFIL’s area of operations.