Hezbollah beats war drums as UN meets to renew peacekeepers’ mandate

August 31, 2023 by Baruch Yedid - TPS
Read on for article

With the UN Security Council due to meet on Wednesday to renew the mandate of a peacekeeping force along the Israel-Lebanon border, Hezbollah has raised its rhetoric in opposition to certain changes under discussion.

UN soldiers along the Israeli-Lebanese border watch Israeli soldiers destroying Hezbollah tunnels crossing into Israeli territory near Metula on Dec. 5, 2018. Photo by Kobi Richter/TPS

The UN Interim Force in Lebanon, better known as UNIFIL, is a multi-national force operating in southern Lebanon that has monitored the Israeli-Lebanon border since 1978. Never intended to be a long-term presence, UNIFIL’s mandate requires the Security Council’s annual renewal.

The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar, reported that the renewal will include a series of changes that will allow UNIFIL’s activities to be coordinated in advance with the Lebanese government and its army.

“There are extensive [Hezbollah] efforts behind the scenes to prevent a change in the wording of the mandate of the UNIFIL force in Southern Lebanon.” Israeli officials told the Tazpit Press Service. Without the changes, the Israeli sources stressed, “Iran may take advantage of this development.”

Strengthening UNIFIL’s freedom of action was among the issues raised by Defence Minister Yoav Gallant in a meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres at the UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday.

“The potential for a violent escalation on Israel’s northern border is growing, as a result of flagrant violations by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah,” said Gallant. “The UN must act immediately.”

Blocking the expanded mandate would be a victory for Hezbollah, which has worked for years to restrict UNIFIL’s ability to operate.

UNIFIL was created in 1978 following cross-border attacks by Palestinian terrorists and a week-long Israeli military invasion of Southern Lebanon.

UNIFIL’ s mandate expanded after the Second War in Lebanon in 2006. The UN Security Council passed Resolution 1701, which called for the disarming of Hezbollah, particularly in Southern Lebanon between the Litani River and the Israeli border.

In the past, Nasrallah called UNIFIL a “foreign force, which operates on Lebanese land without approval.”

The “blue helmet” force is currently made up of nearly 10,000 soldiers from 49 countries.


The debate over UNIFIL’s mandate comes at a complex time for both Israel and Lebanon.

In mid-August, Israel’s Security Cabinet authorized the Israel Defence Forces to take more proactive measures against Palestinian terrorists. The move was widely viewed as threat specifically targeting the Lebanon-based Saleh Arouri, who commands Hamas terror cells in Judea and Samaria and is positioning himself to become the organization’s supreme leader.

Responding to the rhetoric, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah vowed that any Israeli assassinations on Lebanese soil “will be met with a harsh response.” The Iran-backed terror group is believed to have as many as 200,000 rockets.

However, some in Lebanon hope that the start of gas exploration in Lebanese waters will restrain the parties and prevent renewed hostilities. Exploratory drilling in the Kana field is expected to commence in the near future.

US envoy Amos Hochstein, who mediated a resolution to the Israeli-Lebanese maritime border in 2022, arrived in Beirut on Wednesday in a bid to calm the tensions. While the Lebanese government hopes Hochstein can succeed, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian is also visiting Lebanon. His visit is widely regarded as Tehran’s message against Washington’s mediation efforts.

“There is no doubt that Iran is behind the political moves that find expression in Hezbollah’s behavior and certainly in the question of the border disputes and the mandate of UNIFIL in southern Lebanon,” an Israeli source told TPS.

The IDF bolstering its forces in the north after Hezbollah managed to establish an outpost on the Israeli side of the border.

A Blurred Border

The Blue Line demarcating the 120 km-long border was created in 2000 by UN cartographers to verify Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon, which the UN Security Council later certified as complete. The border runs from Rosh HaNikra on the Mediterranean coast to Mount Dov, where the Israeli-Lebanese border converges with Syria. Hezbollah says it does not recognize the Blue Line and disputes numerous points along the border.

Among those points is a strip of land on Mout Dov itself, which Israel captured from Syria. Hezbollah claims the area called Shebaa Farms belongs to Lebanon. Syria has not commented on the matter.

Hezbollah has in the past year constructed no fewer than 27 military posts along the border.

The posts were built under the guise of Green Without Borders, a Hezbollah-affiliated organization that poses as an environmental non-governmental organization. Hezbollah launched the project in parallel to Israel’s construction of a fortified perimeter fence along the entire border. Israel’s effort to fortify the border was prompted by the discovery of Hezbollah cross-border attack tunnels in 2018, a discovery that also damaged UNIFIL’s credibility in Israel.

Hezbollah perceives Israeli social divisions over a controversial judicial overhaul initiative as a sign of weakness.

Speak Your Mind

Comments received without a full name will not be considered
Email addresses are NEVER published! All comments are moderated. J-Wire will publish considered comments by people who provide a real name and email address. Comments that are abusive, rude, defamatory or which contain offensive language will not be published

Got something to say about this?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.