JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Beirut for underground tunnels dug by Hezbollah under the Lebanese-Israeli border.
Speaking at a press conference Wednesday, shortly before the United Nations Security Council was due to pick up the issue, Netanyahu acknowledged that the Lebanese army was likely not aware of the Iranian-militia’s tunneling efforts.
However, he said, “the fact that the Lebanese army is doing nothing means that they are either unable, or unwilling, or both. It doesn’t absolve Lebanon’s culpability. Their territory is being used to attack our territory. Therefore, we hold Lebanon accountable.”
Netanyahu spoke immediately after IDF Spokesman Jonathan Conricus announced the discovery of another tunnel.
Earlier this month the IDF launched an operation to neutralize the tunnels, which Jerusalem says are a violation of the agreement that ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Last week the United States rejected an Israeli request that it impose sanctions on Lebanon over the tunnels.
Some analysts have warned that the conflation of Hezbollah and Lebanon could have unwanted negative ramifications and serve to escalate the fighting in a future conflict.
According to former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, Israel’s political and military leaders kept residents of Israel’s northern border in the dark for years regarding the presence of Hezbollah’s tunnels, telling them that the Lebanese terrorist organization was not digging under the border despite knowledge to the contrary.