The day before the launch of Operation Northern Shield on the Lebanese border, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met in Brussels to discuss the operation, and the PM asked Pompeo to impose sanctions on Lebanon and the Lebanese army, in order to force them to accept responsibility for Hezbollah’s tunnel digging into Israeli territory in violation of UN Resolution 1701. Lebanon signed on to the resolution in 2006 after the Second Lebanon War.
According to Haaretz, citing an anonymous Israeli official, Pompeo agreed to put together a package of severe sanctions against Hezbollah, which is already in economic distress, but made it clear that the US maintains strong ties with Lebanon, including its military, which Pompeo had no intention of harming.
Israel maintains that the Lebanese government and Hezbollah share a hostility to the Jewish state. Indeed, the first announcement by the IDF Spokesperson at the beginning of the operation, and following announcements, suggested that the responsibility for Hezbollah’s digging terror tunnels in southern Lebanon rests with the Lebanese government.
The Americans distinguish between Lebanon and Hezbollah, which is why they agreed on sanctions against the terror organization.
According to Haaretz, this is also why Netanyahu, on his tours of the northern border in recent days, has softened the statements regarding Lebanon, downgrading them to condemning the Lebanese government for granting permission to Hezbollah to use its territory for its attacks on Israel.
Lebanon’s president Michel Aoun, considered a Hezbollah ally, said on Tuesday that Israel’s operation won’t endanger the calm along the border, adding that his country takes the issue seriously. Aoun said the United States had informed Lebanon that Israel has “no aggressive intentions,” adding that his country harbored none either.
Aoun said his government is waiting for a full report on the situation, noting: “We are ready to remove the causes of the disagreements, but after we get the full report and decide what are the issues we need to handle.”