Israel has attacked its neighbor, claiming shots were first fired from Lebanon, as the local UN peacekeeping mission nears its expiration date
Rabat – Israel attacked Lebanon on Tuesday, even as it advocates for the removal of the local United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) peacekeeping mission.
Attack helicopters and bomber planes hit targets in Lebanon overnight as Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) fired live ammunition across the border. The attacks came after the IDF claimed that shots were first fired from Lebanon, injuring no IDF personnel.
Israeli sources claim that several bullets were fired from Lebanon into Israel, with no damage or injuries caused. The unverified claim saw an immediate and typical asymmetrical response from Israel, which fired flares and smoke shells as soldiers used live ammunition to shoot into Lebanon.
Attack helicopters and military aircraft followed the infantry fire, attacking Lebanese territory that the IDF claims is operated by Hezbollah.
Israeli aircraft bombed targets in Lebanon with impunity, even as it claims the local UN peacekeeping mission is biased against Israel. Politicians and media in Israel have been urging foreign partners to support the expiry of the UNIFIL mission.
UNIFIL is a peacekeeping force of international UN troops that intend to prevent a new conflict between Israel and Lebanon, who are technically still at war. But Israeli commentators see the UN mission’s neutrality as an impediment to their ability to attack its northern neighbor at will.
UNIFIL has “limited the IDF’s ability to respond,” Eugene Kontorovich wrote in Israel Hayom.
“The IDF needs to be ready for a rapid strike, without having its maneuvers restricted by UN soldiers,” Kontorovich stated in the right-wing newspaper.
Israeli and US commentators continue to paint UNIFIL as a threat to Israel’s defense, while the reality is that the UN force protects Lebanon from the clear threat of Israeli aggression or even invasion. The severely disproportionate response on August 25 again highlights the impunity of Israeli abilities and willingness to attack its neighbors on a whim.
Israel even used the August 4 explosions in Beirut as a pretext to remove UNIFIL peacekeepers from the border between Lebanon and Israel.
Lebanon, meanwhile, has rejected calls to change or stop the peacekeeping mission. Lebanon’s caretaker Foreign Minister Charbel Wahbe spoke to ambassadors of the five permanent UN Security Council (UNSC) members to urge them to maintain the mission that officially expires at the end of August.
Wahbe’s lobbying could prove crucial, as a UNSC vote could soon extend the peacekeeping mission, or let it expire.
Israeli commentator Kontorovich urged Israel “to take advantage of the window of opportunity in which our friends in the Trump administration still have diplomatic influence.” Israel aims to let the UNIFIL mandate expire and give itself complete impunity to attack Lebanon.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged Hezbollah to disarm itself of “unauthorized weapons” but has made no mention of Israeli nuclear weapons, which receive no IAEA inspections and breach every international convention on nuclear non-proliferation.
The silence surrounding Israeli nukes and the focus on Hezbollah’s small arms once again shows the immensely disproportionate military and diplomatic advantage held by Israel.