Resolution 1701 and beyond: Unpacking the challenges in southern Lebanon

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2023-11-30 | 01:57
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Resolution 1701 and beyond: Unpacking the challenges in southern Lebanon
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5min
Resolution 1701 and beyond: Unpacking the challenges in southern Lebanon

Despite the ceasefire, Israeli attacks on the south continued, while Hezbollah kept the front open to all possibilities, freezing its response with border-crossing missiles.

This article was originally published in and translated from Lebanese newspaper Nidaa Al-Watan.
When the Gaza ceasefire was declared, Hezbollah did not announce that its effect would extend to the south. Automatically, residents returned to their villages without an invitation or official announcement, entering into an undeclared ceasefire, according to Hezbollah's official description.

Throughout the Israeli war, Hezbollah treated the southern front as a support front for Gaza, and its operations were expected to cease simultaneously with the cessation of the Israeli war on Gaza or its entry into a temporary truce.

However, since the ceasefire took effect, Hezbollah has maintained silence, intentionally not declaring its coordination between the two fronts, keeping an air of mystery around it.

On the other hand, Israel did not ask the residents of the north to return to their homes. It deliberately separated the southern and Gaza fronts, evident in its continuous violations of Lebanese territory in the south.

Throughout the days following the ceasefire and since its announcement, spy planes have not ceased in the southern Lebanese sky, and Israel has breached the ceasefire several times by firing shells at Lebanese towns to prevent locals from returning.

Israel has effectively sought to establish a buffer zone on the southern border, resorting to gunfire to deter anyone attempting to approach the border, a point that was accessible before the war in Gaza and deliberately aimed at thwarting those with such intentions.

The situation in the south occupies the forefront of international attention. While the Gaza truce has entered into implementation amid mediation efforts to turn it into a full-fledged truce, Israel's focus remains on the southern front, where it seeks to alter its reality to achieve two crucial goals: pushing Hezbollah away from the borders, especially the Al-Radwan Force and establishing a buffer zone on the borders.

Throughout the past period, during the war and its aftermath, international messages warning Hezbollah against stirring the southern front continued, with Resolution 1701 being of particular international concern regarding its full implementation, especially the part related to Hezbollah's withdrawal beyond the southern borders and the prevention of any armed presence.

While the Security Council session on the matter did not yield unusual outcomes, the resolution was a subject of inquiry for the delegates of Western countries, particularly the United States and France.

Hezbollah considers itself unconcerned with the ongoing discussions about Resolution 1701, stating that it will not concede to Israel what it failed to achieve during the war. Its sources say that the primary goal of the French envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian's visit is to discuss Resolution 1701 and warn against Israel's attempts to provoke a war against Lebanon through the southern gateway.

He is in the process of advising Hezbollah in this regard, informing it of the international and Arab atmosphere regarding the current situation, whether in Gaza and what is being prepared for the long term or in southern Lebanon and its inflamed front.

However, Hezbollah sees that Israel refrains from opening the southern front due to international pressures preventing it from engaging.

But, it attempts to create a different reality by deliberately separating the southern front from the Gaza front, justifying its attacks and leaving itself the freedom to decide on war as compensation for its losses in Gaza.

In its belief, Israel was eager for the ceasefire, whether in Gaza or southern Lebanon, especially after the losses suffered due to the "Burkan" missiles.

Additionally, Israel's current actions were practiced before the Gaza aggression and continued during the ceasefire.

However, it recognizes that any action beyond that will not be undertaken due to its inability to open two fronts. It also knows that any war will not be limited to the southern front alone, and its participation in the aggression on Gaza is a clear indication of the unification of the resistance axis in solidarity with Gaza.

The Israeli side has also been informed through the US envoy Amos Hochstein and others that any aggression on southern Lebanon will open up various possibilities and activate fronts in different areas.
 

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