UN peacekeepers confirm Israeli report of tunnel at Lebanon border

A picture taken from the southern Lebanese village of Kfar Kila shows Israeli soldiers gathering near an Israeli excavation site for reported cross-border Hezbollah-dug tunnels. (AFP)
Updated 06 December 2018
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UN peacekeepers confirm Israeli report of tunnel at Lebanon border

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took Israel-based diplomats to the border with Lebanon
  • Israel discovered Hezbollah tunnels infiltrating its territory from Lebanon and launched an operation to destroy them

JERUSALEM: UN peacekeepers in Lebanon have confirmed the existence of a tunnel discovered by the Israeli military close to the blue line separating the two countries, it said in a statement on Thursday.
The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is "engaged with the parties to pursue urgent follow-up action" and "will communicate its preliminary findings to the appropriate authorities in Lebanon", it added.

Earlier on Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took Israel-based diplomats to the border with Lebanon, showing them the site of a Hezbollah tunnel and calling for sanctions against the Shiite militant group.
“I told the ambassadors that they should condemn this aggression by Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, unequivocally, and of course also to intensify the sanctions against these elements,” he said in a Hebrew-language statement.
Israel announced on Tuesday that it had discovered Hezbollah tunnels infiltrating its territory from Lebanon and launched an operation to destroy them.
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.
Netanyahu said Thursday that Hezbollah, like Hamas in the Gaza Strip, was acting on behalf of its patron Iran.
“Anyone who attacks us will have bloodshed on their own heads,” he said. “Hezbollah knows that and Hamas knows it too.”
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.


Iraq offers to mediate in crisis between US and Iran

Updated 27 May 2019
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Iraq offers to mediate in crisis between US and Iran

  • ‘We are trying to help and to be mediators’
  • The crisis takes root in President Donald Trump’s withdrawal last year of the US from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers

BAGHDAD: Iraq offered to mediate in the crisis between its two key allies, the United States and Iran, amid escalating Middle East tensions and as Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers steadily unravels.
Iraqi foreign minister, Mohammed Al-Hakim, made the offer Sunday during a joint news conference in Baghdad with visiting Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.
“We are trying to help and to be mediators,” said Al-Hakim, adding that Baghdad “will work to reach a satisfactory solution” while stressing that Iraq stands against unilateral steps taken by Washington.
In recent weeks, tensions between Washington and Tehran soared over America deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Arabian Gulf over a still-unexplained threat it perceives from Tehran.
The crisis takes root in President Donald Trump’s withdrawal last year of the US from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers that capped Iran’s uranium enrichment activities in return to lifting sanctions. Washington subsequently re-imposed sanctions on Iran, sending its economy into freefall.
Trump has argued that the deal failed to sufficiently curb Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons or halt its support for militias throughout the Middle East that the US says destabilize the region, as well as address the issue of Tehran’s missiles, which can reach both US regional bases and Israel.
Zarif, who was been on a whirlwind diplomatic offensive to preserve the rest of the accord, insisted that Iran “did not violate the nuclear deal” and urged European nations to exert efforts to preserve the deal following the US pullout.
Speaking about the rising tensions with the US, Zarif said Iran will be able to “face the war, whether it is economic or military through steadfastness and its forces.” He also urged for a non-aggression agreement between Iran and Arab countries in the Gulf.
The mediation offer by Al-Hakim, Iraq’s foreign minister, echoed one made Saturday by Mohamad Al-Halbousi, the Iraqi parliament speaker. Al-Hakim also expressed concern for Iran’s spiraling economy.
“The sanctions against sisterly Iran are ineffective and we stand by its side,” Al-Hakim said.