US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Wednesday accused Lebanon’s Hezbollah of amassing weapons and said the world must turn its attention to the actions of the powerful terror group.
Haley met with UN envoy for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag ahead of a Security Council meeting Thursday focusing on the UN peacekeeping force deployed in southern Lebanon.
“Ambassador Haley expressed alarm over the build-up of weapons by Hezbollah, a situation that demands the international community’s attention to prevent the further escalation of regional tensions,” said a statement by the US mission.
She stressed that the international community must “apply more pressure on Hezbollah to disarm and cease its destabilizing behavior, especially toward Israel.”
Haley has been a strong supporter of Israel, which fought a month-long war against Hezbollah in 2006.
According to Israeli assessments, Hezbollah has significantly built up its weapons stockpile since the 2006 war and has upgraded its arsenal to more than 100,000 missiles.
Arabic media has reported that Iran constructed at least two missile factories within Lebanon, capable of producing medium-range rockets and other weaponry. Israel also fears that some advanced surface-to-sea and anti-aircraft weapons systems have reached Hezbollah from Iran.
Last month, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel against attacking Lebanon or Syria, saying “hundreds of thousands” of Arab and Muslim fighters would be ready to strike back.
There have been periodic skirmishes along the UN-monitored demarcation line between Israel and Lebanon, longtime adversaries which are technically still at war with each other.
On Tuesday, the Israeli army released two videos which it said showed Hezbollah fighters operating in south Lebanon, which it is banned from doing under the UN resolution that ended the 2006 war.
In recent months, Israel has stepped up criticism of the UNIFIL peacekeeping force, accusing it of turning a blind eye to the efforts of Hezbollah to stock up on missiles and set up in the area between the Litani river and the Israeli border.
Haley said the UNIFIL mission must be “fully engaged in addressing the threat posed by Hezbollah.”