Netanyahu says UN force should rein in Hezbollah more
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini on Wednesday that the Italian-led UN peacekeeping force in south Lebanon should do more to rein in Hezbollah.
Netanyahu’s remarks in his Jerusalem office came a day after the visiting minister toured Israel’s northern frontier, where he was shown one of three tunnels uncovered by the army leading into the country from Lebanon.
Israel says the Iranian-backed Shiite militants of Hezbollah dug the tunnels to infiltrate northern Israel in a future conflict.
Referring to Salvini as “a great friend of Israel,” Netanyahu said the tunnels were “a clear act of aggression by Hezbollah against us and against the norms of the international community.”
“You have a commander in UNIFIL, an Italian commander,” Netanyahu said of Major General Stefano Del Col.
“We think UNIFIL has to do a stronger job, tougher job, but ultimately it’s the responsibility of the international community,” he said.
“They should stop Hezbollah from taking these acts of aggression against Israel.”
Salvini, who landed in Israel on Tuesday, was whisked by helicopter to the border.
Following his tour, he told reporters the tunnel was dug by “Islamic terrorists” and accused the European Union of being biased against Israel, which he called “a safe haven for European and Western values in the region”.
Salvini, who heads Italy’s anti-immigration League party, visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem on Wednesday.
He was set to leave Israel later in the day.
Israel fought a 2006 war against Hezbollah that was halted by a UN-brokered truce.
Hezbollah is the only group in Lebanon not to have disarmed after the country’s 1975-1990 civil war.