The United Nations observer force tasked with monitoring the buffer zone between Israel and Lebanon was denied access to inspect the entry point of a Hizbullah cross-border attack tunnel. At the monthly Security Council meeting on developments in the Middle East, UN special envoy Nikolay Mladenov confirmed that UNIFIL was prevented from performing its duties in accordance with Resolution 1701, which set the terms for ending the 2006 war between the Jewish state and the Shiite Iranian proxy including a demand for Hizbullah’s total disarmament. The Israel Defense Forces in December launched Operation Northern Shield to destroy the subterranean structures built by Hizbullah with a view to dispatching elite forces to capture Israeli towns and villages in a future conflict. The army uncovered six such structures during the month-long mission which analysts construed as a direct message to Tehran and a possible precursor to further military action to neutralize Hizbullah’s arsenal of some 130,000 projectiles. Jerusalem has long contended that UNIFIL turns a blind eye to Hizbullah’s violations and repeatedly warned of the potential outbreak of war in the eventuality the terror group is allowed to continue militarizing southern Lebanon.
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