U.N. peacekeepers in southern Lebanon have failed to report on Hezbollah guerrilla armaments as required, a senior Israeli official said today, arguing that Israel could not rely on foreign intervention for its security.
The remarks underscored the conservative strategies of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu as instability rocks Israel’s neighbors and world powers urge it to roll back its West Bank occupation to make way for Palestinian state.
“Under pressure, a multi-national force is like an umbrella that gets folded up on a rainy day,” Yaakov Amidror, Netanyahu’s national security adviser, said in a Tel Aviv University speech.
Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hezbollah, Amidror said, has been building its arsenal despite the 35-year presence of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in its heartland.
“Has Hezbollah avoided bringing any kind of rocket, missile or other arms into southern Lebanon because UNIFIL is there?” he said. Israel believes Hezbollah has amassed 60,000 rockets, including 5,000 with heavy warheads capable of hitting Tel Aviv.
“Under their (UNIFIL) mandate, they cannot stop Hezbollah and confiscate its arms, but they can write a report. There has been no UNIFIL report about any weapon of any Hezbollah person since UNIFIL has existed,” Amidror said.
As part of the U.N. ceasefire that ended Israel’s inconclusive 2006 war with Hezbollah, UNIFIL’s mandate was enhanced to include “assisting” the Lebanese army with keeping guerrilla “personnel, assets and weapons” out of south Lebanon.
Read more at REUTERS.