Israel 'closest to military action in Lebanon since 2006 war', says diplomat

Israel 'closest to military action in Lebanon since 2006 war', says diplomat
Israel's permanent representative to the UN, Gilad Erdan, said his country is 'the nearest to launching military action in Lebanon since the 2006 [war]'.
3 min read
31 August, 2023
Gilad Erdan is Israel's permanent representative to the United Nations [Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty-archive]

Israel is closer to conflict in Lebanon than at any point since the brutal 2006 war with Hezbollah, an Israeli diplomat said on Wednesday.

Gilad Erdan, Israel's permanent representative to the UN, made the remark to Army Radio, alleging an escalation by Lebanese militia Hezbollah on the border.

"[Israel is] the nearest to launching military action in Lebanon since the 2006 [war]," he said, blaming Hezbollah for the increase in tensions on the border.

It came before a UN Security Council vote - scheduled for Wednesday but since delayed over disagreements - on renewing the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) peacekeepers. The mandate expires on Thursday.

UNFIL was created in 1978 to confirm Israeli troops' withdrawal from Lebanon, which they had invaded, as well as to monitor the border area.

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A senior US adviser arrived in Lebanon on Wednesday for a two-day visit that coincides with a trip by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian.

US energy adviser Amos Hochstein was to follow up on a 2022 deal that demarcated Lebanon's maritime borders with Israel, the American embassy said.

He was also to discuss "areas of mutual and regional concern", the mission added, likely referring to recent tensions between Israel and Hezbollah.

The month-long 2006 Lebanon War saw Israel and Hezbollah clash with neither side able to militarily defeat the other, although many saw the Lebanese militia as winning on the PR front.

Human Rights Watch said at least 1,109 Lebanese lost their lives, adding that civilians made up the vast majority.

According to Israel's army, 49 Israeli civilians and 121 of its troops were killed.

Yoav Gallant, Israel's defence minister, cautioned on Tuesday that "the potential for a violent escalation" on the border with Lebanon "is growing" because of "flagrant violations" by Hezbollah.

He told UN chief António Guterres the world body "must act immediately", according to a release from the Israeli government's press office.

Tensions between Hezbollah and Israel have recently flared along Lebanon's southern border.

Hezbollah erected two tents in June in the occupied Shebaa Farms and Kfar Shuba Hills, which Israel captured during a 1967 war and illegally annexed in 1981.

The Shebaa Farms and Kfar Shuba Hills are Arab territory occupied by Israel that belongs either to Lebanon or Syria. These areas are claimed by Beirut and viewed with great importance by Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, Israel's building of a wall around the Lebanese part of a village that Israeli troops captured during the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war worsened tensions.

In early July, Israel shelled a southern Lebanese border town after explosions were heard in an area that spans between Lebanon and Syria's Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Agencies contributed to this story.