Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took foreign diplomats to the border with Lebanon on Thursday, ramping up anti-Hezbollah rhetoric amid a controversial military operation to destroy alleged attack tunnels.
Israel announced on Tuesday that it had discovered alleged Hezbollah tunnels infiltrating its territory from Lebanon and launched an operation to destroy them, but Lebanon has disputed claims amid accusations Netanyahu is trying to distract from his legal problems.
On Wednesday, Netanyahu told UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that he expects the UN to strongly condemn the violation of Israel’s sovereignty, according to his office’s Twitter account.
He said in a Hebrew-language statement on Thursday:
Netanyahu said Thursday that Hezbollah, like Hamas in the Gaza Strip, was acting on behalf of its patron Iran.
The military said it had located one such tunnel dug from a home in the Kfar Kila area of south Lebanon that crossed into Israeli territory and was working to neutralize it.
Lebanon’s parliament speaker Nabih Berri said on Wednesday that Israel had provided no evidence of tunnels allegedly built by Hezbollah to launch cross-border attacks.
There has been no comment from Hezbollah.
Amid the much-publicized tunnel operations, Netanyahu has been condemned by opposition politicians and commentators for seeking to distract from mounting personal legal woes and a fragile political coalition.
Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni on Wednesday accused Netanyahu of blowing the [tunnel] incident out of proportion.
Livni alleged that part of Netanyahu’s thinking was to deflect criticism from residents of southern Israel who say he has failed to quash the threat of cross-border rocket fire from militants in the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli leader is seeking to hold his governing coalition together after last month’s resignation of defense minister Avigdor Lieberman over a controversial Gaza ceasefire, which left him clinging to a one-seat majority in parliament.
The prime minister took over the defense portfolio after Lieberman’s resignation.
He has also faced mounting legal woes, with police on Sunday recommending that he and his wife Sara be indicted for bribery, the third such decision against the premier in recent months.
Source: Palestine Chronicle