State Department Official On Lebanon Visit: Hezbollah ‘Unacceptable’

Supporters of Lebanon's Shiite movement Hezbollah gather near a poster of their leader Hassan Nasrallah during a ceremony to mark Ashura in Beirut on September 20, 2018

TEL AVIV – A senior American official said Monday during a visit to Lebanon that the U.S. will ramp up efforts to counter Iran’s “dangerous” activities in the region and that the presence of Iranian terror proxy Hezbollah was “unacceptable.”

U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale said the U.S. would not tolerate a militia operating outside the control of the Lebanese government and unanswerable to the people of Lebanon.

“While Lebanon has the right to defend itself, that is the right of the Lebanese state alone,” said Hale.

Hale, who was formerly the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, made his remarks after a meeting with Lebanese prime minister designate Saad al-Hariri.

“It is unacceptable to have a militia outside the control of the state, and unanswerable to all people of Lebanon, digging attack tunnels across the blue line to Israel or assembling an arsenal of over 100,000 missiles with which to threaten regional stability,” he added.

Hale vowed that the U.S. would rein in Iran’s actions in Lebanon, “including the financing of proxy terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah.”

The IDF on Sunday announced the end of its northern operation to find and destroy cross-border tunnels with the discovery of a sixth attack tunnel dug by Hezbollah.

“With the discovery of this terror tunnel, the effort to locate the passages dug by Hezbollah that crossed the border into Israeli territory has been completed. The neutralization of this passage will be completed in the coming days,” the army said in a statement, adding that the operation had “removed the threat from the citizens of Israel.”

“According to our intelligence and our assessment of the situation, there are no longer any cross-border attack tunnels from Lebanon into Israel,” army spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said.

“In addition, the IDF is monitoring and is in possession of a number of sites where Hezbollah is digging underground infrastructure that has yet to cross into Israeli territory,” the IDF stated.

Operation Northern Shield was launched over a month ago with the aim of locating and destroying tunnels dug by Hezbollah into towns in northern Israel.

Earlier this week, outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot said Hezbollah was planning to use its network of tunnels to carry out a surprise attack that would “throw Israel off balance and cause an earthquake in Israeli society.”

The military added, “IDF troops and the tunnel-finding laboratory will continue serving permanently along the Lebanese border.” It also said the construction of a $470 million border wall would continue as planned. The aim of the wall is twofold: to protect Israelis from sniper attacks and to prevent Hezbollah terrorists from infiltrating into Israeli territory.

Lebanon on Friday said it intends to file a complaint at the UN Security Council over the border wall.

 

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