Israel National News (Link) - Nissan Ratzlav-Katz (August 26, 2008)
A United Nations task force assigned to report on weapons smuggling in Lebanon said Monday that Hizbullah has been bringing arms across the Syrian-Lebanese border. This confirms Israeli allegations that the Iran-backed Lebanese terrorist group has been steadily rearming with Syrian assistance and Lebanese collusion.
Last month, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney that "the number of missiles in the hands of Hizbullah has doubled, if not tripled, and that the range of the missiles has been extended. And this has been accomplished with the close assistance of the Syrians." In March, an anonymous source told the Associated Press that Hizbullah held new Iranian rockets capable of striking as far south as Dimona, Israel's nuclear facility in the Negev.
According to the task force report, submitted to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday, neither Lebanese nor Syrian officials have done anything to end weapons transfers to Hizbullah. The task force, which has seen no improvement in the situation since it started its work in 2007, noted that weapons flow easily across the Syrian-Lebanese frontier due to lax or non-existent inspections. Even the air and sea ports into Lebanon, the report says, have been used for weapons smuggling.
In Violation of U.N. Resolutions
Weapons transfers to the Hizbullah such as those cited in the task force report are in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the Second Lebanon War two years ago. However, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) patrols in southern Lebanon, far from the weapons transfer routes. Furthermore, UNIFIL has stated outright that it would not enforce Res. 1701 conditions calling for the disarming of Hizbullah.
In March 2008, Hizbullah terrorists threatened and chased off UNIFIL forces after the armed international soldiers found a truck carrying illicit arms and ammunition. The incident was mentioned in a semi-yearly report submitted to the U.N. Security Council by Ban Ki-moon.
In an earlier report to the U.N. Security Council, in February 2008, Ki-moon noted, "Hizbullah, by admission of its leaders on several occasions, has replenished its military capacity since the 2006 war with Israel. I therefore remain concerned that this border remains vulnerable to such [weapons transfers], which would represent serious violations of the resolution and constitute a significant threat to the stability and security of Lebanon."
Earlier this month, a spokesman for yet another U.N. committee focused on Lebanon, the International-Lebanese Committee for U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559, said Hizbullah has violated international restrictions on its militarization "big time." Res. 1559 of 2004 is focused on preserving Lebanese sovereignty from foreign interference and preceded the end of the Syrian occupation in the 2005 Cedar Revolution.
Also in mid-August, the commander of UNIFIL, Maj.-Gen. Claudio Graziano, accused Israel of violating Res. 1701 by continuing Israel Air Force overflights in Lebanese airspace, as well as by the Jewish State's refusal to submit maps of areas on which it dropped cluster bombs during the 2006 war. Israel maintains that the overflights are necessitated by Hizbullah's weapons build-up and deepening entrenchment in southern Lebanon, despite UNIFIL's obligations to halt such activities.