US turns down Israeli request to punish Lebanon for tunnels dug by Hezbollah


(JTA) — The United States rejected an Israeli request that it impose sanctions on Lebanon after the Israeli army uncovered several tunnels dug by Hezbollah under the Israeli-Lebanese border.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the request when he met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels last week, according to Haaretz. Netanyahu claimed that Lebanon, by allowing Hezbollah to operate in Southern Lebanon and dig the tunnels, had violated the agreement that had ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

The violation has become one of Israel’s talking points since the start last week of Northern Shield, the Israeli military’s operation to uncover the tunnels. In a statement issued Tuesday, the Israel Defense Forces said that “the Lebanese Government is held accountable for the attack tunnels dug from Lebanese territory. This is another blatant breach of UN Resolution 1701 and of Israeli sovereignty.”

The U.S. apparently rejected the argument, but did agree to put more pressure on Hezbollah and place more sanctions on the Iran-backed militia. On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would place additional sanctions on Hezbollah and Hamas for using civilians as human shields.

On Tuesday, the IDF announced that it had “exposed a cross-border attack tunnel” that crossed from Lebanese territory into Israel. This marks the third tunnel uncovered during the current operation.

Last week, Israeli political and military leaders admitted that they kept residents of Israel’s northern border in the dark about the presence of Hezbollah tunnels, telling them for years that the Lebanese terrorist organization was not digging under the border despite knowledge to the contrary.

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