Security Council Resolution 1701 and Its Systematic Violation by Hezbollah and Iran

Hezbollah and Lebanese flags a few yards from where IDF forces operate to expose and neutralize the tunnels (Twitter account of Ali Shoeib, correspondent for Hezbollah's al-Manar TV channels, @ali_shoeib, December 15, 2018).

Hezbollah and Lebanese flags a few yards from where IDF forces operate to expose and neutralize the tunnels (Twitter account of Ali Shoeib, correspondent for Hezbollah's al-Manar TV channels, @ali_shoeib, December 15, 2018).

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah:

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah: "[The Israelis say] if Hezbollah has ten accurate missiles...they will wreak a very great catastrophe" (al-Mayadeen YouTube channel, January 3, 2018).

The route of the tunnel, which penetrates about 40 meters (about 44 yards) into Israeli territory (IDF spokesman, December 4, 2018).

The route of the tunnel, which penetrates about 40 meters (about 44 yards) into Israeli territory (IDF spokesman, December 4, 2018).


The "concrete factory" in the village of Kafr Kila, the Lebanese end of the tunnel (IDF spokesman, December 4, 2018).

  • The IDF is currently carrying out Operation Northern Shield to expose and neutralize the attack tunnels dug by Hezbollah along the Israeli-Lebanese border. The construction of the tunnels is another example of the systematic, significant violations of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, passed at the end of the Second Lebanon War. So far four tunnels have been exposed which Hezbollah planned to infiltrate forces and attack northern Israeli towns and cities. Infiltrating Hezbollah forces is one aspect of the Iran and Hezbollah strategy to move the fighting into Israeli territory in the next war.
  • Security Council Resolution 1701, unanimously passed on August 11, 2006, was based on previous Security Council resolutions and on the Taif Agreement (which ended the Lebanese civil war). Resolution 1701 went into effect on August 14, 2006, after having been confirmed by the Israeli and Lebanese governments two days before. The objective of the resolution was to create a new reality in Lebanon in general and in south Lebanon in particular, in which the Lebanese government would be the only sovereign entity in the country, and Hezbollah and the other armed organizations were to disarm. According to the resolution, there would be security arrangements according to which the only armed forces south of the Litani River would be the Lebanese army, supported by UNIFIL.

An examination of Security Council Resolution 1701 twelve years later indicates that the key paragraphs, whose objective was to give full sovereignty over the country to the Lebanese government and to prevent the reconstruction of Hezbollah’s military infrastructure, were not enforced by the Lebanese government and army. To replace the infrastructure damaged during the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah has constructed an upgraded, improved, more extensive infrastructure, centering around an arsenal of more than 130,000 rockets and dozens of precise missiles. Hezbollah’s arsenal threatens Israeli population centers and strategic sites. Hezbollah built its military infrastructure in the region south of the Litani River, embedded within the local Shi’ite population. Hezbollah’s weapons were smuggled from Iran through Syria to Lebanon, in direct violation of Security Council Resolution 1701.

  • Hezbollah does not try to hide its improved military capabilities and from time to time publicizes them to deter Israel: two years ago Hezbollah held a display of its military force (see below); Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah repeatedly threatens to wreak a “very great catastrophe” on Israel with precise missiles; in several speeches Nasrallah has specifically stated that Israel’s sea ports, airports, power plants, nuclear installations and petrochemical plants will be targeted; Hezbollah flags are flown in the Shi’ite villages along the border as a message to Israel, indicating Hezbollah’s military presence in and control of the region, where Resolution 1701 forbids military forces other than the Lebanese army and UNIFIL. Even as the IDF exposes and neutralizes Hezbollah’s attack tunnels, the organization’s flags fly next to Lebanese flags close to where the IDF forces operate.

Hezbollah boasts its forces will occupy the Galilee in the next war. The map shows Hezbollah's spearheads inside Israel in green (Hezbollah's website, October 1, 2012).
Hezbollah boasts its forces will occupy the Galilee in the next war.
The map shows Hezbollah’s spearheads inside Israel in green
(Hezbollah’s website, October 1, 2012).

  • This document analyzes Security Council Resolution 1701, examines its weak points, and indicates the key violations committed by Hezbollah and Iran. The full text of the resolution appears in the Appendix.
UN Security Council Resolution 1701, Main Points
  • The following are the key points of the resolution with political-security importance (ITIC emphasis):
    • Imposing the full sovereignty of the Lebanese government throughout Lebanese territory: The resolution calls for the extension of the control of the Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory in accordance with the provisions of resolution 1559 (2004)[1] and resolution 1680 (2006)[2], and of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords[3], for it to exercise its full sovereignty, so that there will be no weapons without the consent of the Government of Lebanon and no authority other than that of the Government of Lebanon (paragraph 3 of Security Council Resolution 1701).
    • Imposing special security arrangements on south Lebanon between the Litani River and the Blue Line [the Israeli-Lebanese border designated by UN cartographers after the IDF withdrew from Lebanon in May 2000] The resolution calls for security arrangements to prevent the resumption of hostilities, including the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an area free of any armed personnel [i.e., no Hezbollah presence], assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL… (Resolution paragraph 8).
    • The Lebanese army will be supported by an upgraded UNIFIL: The resolution authorizes an increase in the force strength of UNIFIL to a maximum of 15,000 troops, [that will] monitor the cessation of hostilities; accompany and support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy throughout the South…; coordinate its activities… with the Government of Lebanon and the Government of Israel; … assist the Lebanese armed forces in taking steps towards the establishment of the area as referred to in paragraph 8; and assist the Government of Lebanon, at its request, to [support the security of Lebanon’s borders] (see below); (paragraph 11)
    • The disarming of Hezbollah and other armed groups (without specific reference to Hezbollah): The resolution calls for the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL with full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and of resolutions 1559 and 1680, that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that…there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese State (Resolution paragraph 8). It also calls for proposals to implement the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and resolutions 1559 and 1680, including disarmament, and for delineation of the international borders of Lebanon, and to present to the Security Council those proposals within thirty days (Resolution paragraph 10).
    • Preventing the entrance of weapons into Lebanon without the authorization of the Lebanese government: It calls upon the Government of Lebanon to secure its borders and other entry points to prevent the entry in Lebanon without its consent or arms or related materiel and requests UNIFIL to assist the Government of Lebanon at its request; (Resolution paragraph 14). In addition, the resolution forbids the sale or supply to any entity or individual in Lebanon of arms and related materiel of all types (Resolution paragraph 15).
  • According to the resolution, that includes that all States [i.e., Syria and Iran] take the necessary measures to prevent the provision of weapons from their territories to unauthorized personnel in Lebanon [a reference to Hezbollah]: Such provision is forbidden to their nationals or from their territories, or using their flag vessels or aircraft(Resolution paragraph 15).
Weak point of Resolution 1701 that prevented its implementation

Security Council Resolution 1701 ended the Second Lebanon War and since then there has been an extended period of quiet along the Israeli-Lebanese border. The quiet is the fruit of a balance of deterrence between Israel on the one hand and Iran and Hezbollah on the other, and it still exists. It has been exploited by Iran to rebuild Hezbollah’s military infrastructure in gross violation of key paragraphs of Resolution 1701: the Lebanese government’s authority and sovereignty do not effectively encompass all of Lebanon; Hezbollah did not disarm and maintains its presence in south Lebanon; Hezbollah’s military force was reconstructed and upgraded by Iran (with Syrian support); and the embargo on importing/smuggling arms into Lebanon has not been enforced, primarily because Iran consistently violates the resolution.

  • In ITIC assessment, an analysis of Resolution 1701 and how it was enforced over the past 12 years raises three points:
    • The Lebanese government and army (with upgraded UNIFIL support) were supposed to enforce the security arrangements and prevent (Iranian-backed) Hezbollah violations. However, the Lebanese political system is weak and Hezbollah’s influence has increased, as seen by the results of the elections held on May 6, 2018.[4] The Lebanese army is small, its weapons are outdated, and many of its soldiers are Shi’ites influenced by Hezbollah; the military strength of Hezbollah, a terrorist organization, is greater than that of the Lebanese army. The Lebanese government pays lip service to Resolution 1701, but in reality does not enforce it because it does not want to come into conflict with Hezbollah.[5]
    • The upgraded UNIFIL, which is supposed to support the Lebanese army, avoids enforcing Resolution 1701. It shows more intensive activity than before the war and supports the Lebanese army’s routine activities. However, UNIFIL employs a narrow interpretation of Resolution 1701 because both UNIFIL and the countries that compose it, as well as the Lebanese government are afraid of a frontal confrontation with Hezbollah. Therefore, UNIFIL did not prevent Hezbollah from rebuilding its military infrastructure in the Shi’ite villages in south Lebanon, and does not effectively deal with the occasional problems caused by Hezbollah’s military presence there. UNIFIL’s limited interpretation of the resolution prevents it from being an effective force in preventing Hezbollah’s ongoing military entrenchment in south Lebanon and its continuing violations of the key paragraphs of Resolution 1701. In addition UNIFIL does not support, and is not requested by the Lebanese government to support the securing of the Lebanese-Syrian border to prevent the smuggling of weapons into Lebanon.
    • The international community pays lip service to the need to implement Resolution 1701 but in reality has come to terms with the ongoing violations of its key paragraphs. In the years since the Second Lebanon War enormous quantities of Iranian-provided weapons have entered Lebanon for Hezbollah, while the international community has made no real attempt to enforce Resolution 1701 (and also is not enthusiastic about giving the mission to UNIFIL). In recent years Israel has tried to prevent advanced weapons from reaching Hezbollah from Iran through Syria and to keep Iran from manufacturing precise missiles on Lebanese soil. However, Israel does it alone to protect its essential security interests without the involvement of the countries party to Resolution 1701.
The result: the systematic violation of Security Council Resolution 1701

The key paragraphs of Resolution 1701 and the security arrangements relating to the area of Lebanon south of the Litani River have not been enforced during the twelve years since the Second Lebanon War. The Lebanese government is not the sole sovereign in Lebanon as determined by the resolution, and the weapons of the Lebanese army are not the only weapons south of the Litani River (or in all Lebanon). Hezbollah’s military infrastructure, which is deployed in south Lebanon and in the north, was reconstructed and upgraded after the Second Lebanon War. The tunnels recently exposed on the Israeli border are further manifestations of the lack of the resolution’s enforcement. The area south of the Litani River was not demilitarized. Hezbollah continues as its main military power, despite the routine security activities in south Lebanon of the Lebanese army, supported by UNIFIL. Iran continues smuggling weapons into Lebanon by air, by sea and overland, and the Lebanese government makes no real attempt to stop it.

Hezbollah’s Land Forces
  • Since the Second Lebanon War Hezbollah has, with Iranian support, upgraded its military force in direct contravention of Security Council Resolution 1701. Hezbollah does not even try to keep it a secret. Two years ago, on November 13, 2016, Hezbollah held an exceptionally large military display, the first of its kind. It was held near the Syrian city of al-Qusayr in northern Beqaa in Lebanon, which was occupied by Hezbollah as part of its support for the Assad regime during the Syrian civil war. The display was one of a series of events held by Hezbollah commemorating its operatives who had been killed.[6] (Hezbollah marks Shaheed Day every November 11).
  • The military display was a public demonstration of some of Hezbollah’s military force constructed since the Second Lebanon War. Some of the units were the armored unit, the artillery unit, the elite al-Radwan unit and the off-road motorcycle unit, representing the spearhead of Hezbollah’s military force. The display also included some of Hezbollah’s weapons, some of which had never been seen before, which can be divided into three categories:
    • Tanks of Soviet origin and US-made APCs, including T-72 tanks with reactive armor protection (against anti-tank missiles); T-54/T-55 and T-62 tanks; BMP APCs (one of them was identified as a BMP-1 APC with a Sagger missile mounted on it); US-made M-113 APCs with 14.5 mm guns of Soviet origin mounted on them.
    • Self-propelled artillery, including anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns, 100 mm anti-tank guns and other self-propelled guns on hulls for SA-6 anti-aircraft missile systems; 122 mm rockets mounted on trucks (a truck with 50 barrels was identified); 302 mm rocket launchers mounted on trucks (with an estimated range of 56-112 miles); self-propelled 122 mm guns; 130 mm (?) guns mounted on trucks; 23 mm twin anti-aircraft guns mounted on trucks.
    • ATVs and off-road motorcycles, used by Hezbollah for rapid movement and for improving its guerrilla warfare capabilities. The weaponry identified in the photos includes ATVs with Kornet anti-tank missiles mounted on them (at least on one of them were installed two Kornet missiles on a single launcher).

Although the weapons were displayed in the context of the fighting in Syria, they can be expected to be turned against Israel in the future, using the military experience Hezbollah gained fighting in Syria. Particularly worthy of attention are the self-propelled rockets (including 302 mm rockets with a range of 56 to 112 miles) and the ATVs with Kornet anti-aircraft missiles mounted on them (which enable good mobility and improve the survival of Hezbollah’s operatives). The display was meant to deter Israel (and Hezbollah’s other enemies) and to demonstrate that Hezbollah had turned from a guerrilla organization to a semi-military organization, well trained and with great military experience acquired in Syria, and had established new units armed with heavy weapons (i.e., tanks and APCs) – more characteristic of a regular national army than a guerrilla and terrorist organization.

  • Hezbollah’s war room (pictures from a documentary series shown on Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV channel beginning December 17, 2012. It was called “If Hezbollah had been defeated”).
Rocket arsenal

The most prominent component of Hezbollah’s military infrastructure built by Iran during the past twelve years, is its large rocket arsenal, which has been upgraded and includes advanced weapons. During the Second Lebanon War its arsenal was estimated at 20,000 rockets, in 2012 at 60,000 rockets, and today at more than 130,000 rockets. Hezbollah also has dozens of precise missiles which threaten population centers and strategic sites throughout Israel, including its south (“From Qiryat Shemonah to Eilat,” according to Hassan Nasrallah). Thus Hezbollah can potentially inflict serious damage on the entire Israeli home front with continuous rocket fire during an extended period of fighting, and with a much higher level of precision than it could during the Second Lebanon War. That makes it possible for Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah to repeatedly publicly threaten Israel that it will attack population centers and vital installations, including power plants, airports, sea ports, petrochemical plants and nuclear installations.[7]

  • Interviewed by a Hezbollah-supporting TV channel, Hassan Nasrallah was asked about Israel’s estimate of 130,000 rockets. He answered, “When you put that society [Israeli society] and that country [Israel] and that entity before you, you will see its army, security apparatuses, people, power plants, airports and sea ports, petrochemical and nuclear plants. Believe me, it has nothing to do with the number of rockets. To overcome the Israeli army you don’t need a hundred thousand or two hundred thousand rockets…[Israel] says to itself, Hezbollah doesn’t need a hundred thousand rockets…if Hezbollah has scores of precise missiles, it can choose its targets and wreak a very great catastrophe on us” (al-Mayadeen TV, January 3, 2018).

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah: "[The Israelis say] if Hezbollah has ten accurate missiles...they will wreak a very great catastrophe" (al-Mayadeen YouTube channel, January 3, 2018).
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah: “[The Israelis say] if Hezbollah has ten accurate missiles…they will wreak a very great catastrophe” (al-Mayadeen YouTube channel, January 3, 2018).

Rebuilding Hezbollah’s military infrastructure in south Lebanon

Since the end of the Second Lebanon War Hezbollah has rebuilt its military infrastructure in south Lebanon, to the north and south of the Litani River. It includes rockets, anti-tank missile launchers, IEDs, anti-aircraft and other weapons. The weapons and the operatives that use them are embedded within the Shi’ite villages, whose residents are forced to serve Hezbollah as human shields. Hezbollah uses a variety of measures to conceal and camouflage its infrastructure in order to prevent it from being discovered by the Lebanese army and UNIFIL and to keep it from being exposed to accusations of having violated Resolution 1701.

  • To camouflage its activity near the Israeli border Hezbollah uses an environmental NGO called Green Without Borders.[8] The chief of Israel military intelligence, General Hertzi Halevi, reported that “Hezbollah comes within a stone’s throw of the border under the cover of a green organization” (Ynet, January 22, 2017). On June 21, 2017, the Israeli ambassador to the UN sent a letter to the president of the Security Council in which he wrote that “… Hezbollah…continues to unabatedly strengthen its military infrastructure in the villages of southern Lebanon, in clear violation of Security Council resolutions 1701 and 1559…Over the past few months, Hezbollah established observation posts near the Blue Line…These posts were erected under the guise of an agricultural NGO known as “Green Without Borders,” the activities of which are defined and at times funded by Hezbollah…” The letter mentions a clash in April 2017, in which a group of local residents blocked the road, preventing a UNIFIL patrol from reaching a Green Without Borders observation point. A map was attached to letter showing the locations of Hezbollah’s observation posts camouflaged posts of Green Without Borders. The letter stresses that Hezbollah’s activity near the border violates Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701 (Israeli foreign ministry website, June 22, 2017).
Concealing and camouflaging Hezbollah’s weaponry: two explosions in Hezbollah weapons warehouses

On October 12, 2009, there was an explosion in the house of a Hezbollah operative in the village to Tair Filsay, about nine miles northeast of the city of Tyre. The building had been used as a Hezbollah weapons warehouse. Several people were injured in the blast, including the owner of the house. Three months previously (July 14, 2009) a Hezbollah weapons warehouse exploded on the outskirts of the village of Khirbet Silim, south of the Litani River.[9]

  • Prominent in both events was the vigorous effort made by Hezbollah to contain them and hide the fact that the organization stores weapons in residential areas. After the explosion in Tair Filsay the IDF issued a video showing how Hezbollah deals with events like the explosion in Khirbet Silim. The video shows three stages of containment and concealment:
    • Stage one: containing the event and removing the remaining weapons from the warehouse.
    • Stage two: removing the weapons from the site of the explosion:
    • Stage three: the entrance of the Lebanese army and UNIFIL. The Lebanese army and UNIFIL are permitted to reach the site of the explosion only after the weapons have been removed. Note: The Lebanese army and UNIFIL were allowed to enter Khirbet Silim only on the day after the explosion, where they found an abandoned warehouse and the weapons the organization had not managed to remove in time.
  • The events in Tair Filsay and Khirbet Silim exposed the limitations of UNIFIL’s activity, which are ineffective inside Shi’ite villages where Hezbollah locates its military infrastructure (although in the case of Khirbet Silim UNIFIL showed a little more assertiveness, while Hezbollah used the opportunity to issued threats). Following the event in Khirbet Silim UNIFIL called the explosion a “gross violation” of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 (July 15, 2009). The Security Council held a meeting following the announcement, where the UN secretary general attacked Hezbollah and said the organization was responsible for preventing UNIFIL from carrying out its mission in south Lebanon. The members of the Security Council condemned Hezbollah’s “gross violation” of Security Council Resolution 1701. However, that made no change in the way the international community relates to Israel’s repeated complaints about Hezbollah’s violations of Resolution 1701.
Hezbollah’s tunnel project: another component of preparations for offensive activity in south Lebanon
  • So far the IDF has exposed four tunnels penetrating into Israeli territory from Lebanon. It is reasonable to assume that other tunnels exist along the border which have not yet been exposed. The tunnel openings on the Lebanese side are in Hezbollah-controlled Shi’ite villages. Thus it would seem that the tunnel project has been in existence for several years without Lebanese army or UNIFIL intervention.

The tunnel project is part of an offensive concept formulated by Hezbollah. Its objective is to move the fighting into Israeli territory and strike a blow at the Israeli home front during the next war. In ITIC assessment the tunnels were supposed to make it possible for Hezbollah’s elite forces to penetrate into Israeli territory and carry out showcase attacks (such as taking over villages, mass-killing attacks, abducting soldiers and cutting off main roads).

  • On December 16, 2012, Gebran Bassil, the Lebanese foreign minister, visited the Lebanese border in the wake of IDF activity. After the visit he posted a notice to his Facebook page saying, “Lebanon is defended by its army and by its “resistance” (i.e., Hezbollah), and what is important is that it is defended by means of its pluralism and diversity, which will defeat the rule and racism of Israel.” Representing Hezbollah as defending Lebanon from Israel alongside the Lebanese army, is in complete and total contradiction of Security Council Resolution 1701, which called for Hezbollah and other armed organizations to be disarmed.
UN Security Council Resolution 1701, full text

UN Security Council Resolution 1701, full text

UN Security Council Resolution 1701, full text

UN Security Council Resolution 1701, full text

UN Security Council Resolution 1701, full text

[1] UN Security Council Resolution 1559 was passed on September 2, 2004. It stated the Security Council was "Gravely concerned at the continued presence of armed militias in Lebanon, which prevent the Lebanese government from exercising its full sovereignty over all Lebanese territory." The resolution included a call for the disarmament of the Lebanese (i.e., Hezbollah and other Lebanese armed organizations) and non-Lebanese (i.e., the armed Palestinian organizations) militias.
[2] UN Security Council Resolution 1680 was passed on May 17, 2006. It called for the implementation of Resolution 1559, the disbanding and disarming of Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias, the extension of the control of the Government of Lebanon over all its territory, the strict respect of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence of Lebanon.

[3] The Taif Agreement (or the "national reconciliation accord") was signed on October 22, 1989 in Taif, Saudi Arabia. It and marked the end of the Lebanese civil war (1975-1989). It called for the withdrawal of Syria from Lebanon and the disarmament of the Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias. In reality the Syrians prevented the disarmament of Hezbollah.

[4] In the elections, held for the first time in nine years, Hezbollah won a majority of the seats in the Lebanese parliament (70 of the 128 seats). That gave it even greater influence in internal Lebanese politics and in the Lebanese government (which had not yet been established as there were stubborn negotiations between Hezbollah and the prime minister over the composition of the new government).

[5] Past experience has shown that when Hezbollah feels the Lebanese government is trying to curb it, Hezbollah uses violence to exert pressure. One prominent example was the bloodbath in Beirut on May 7, 2008, during which at least 81 people were killed and 250 wounded. The excuses were the government move to shut down Hezbollah's private Iranian-supported telecommunication networks and the firing of a high-ranking security figure who supported Hezbollah. He was head of security in the Beirut airport and allowed arms to be smuggled in for Hezbollah. During the riots Hezbollah took control over Beirut and other cities, such as Tripoli. Hezbollah's violence forced the Lebanese government to abandon its demands.

[6] For further information, see the December 12, 2016 in, "The military show of strength held by Hezbollah in the Syrian city of Al-Qusayr."

[7] For further information, see the January 18, 2018 bulletin, " An interview granted by Hassan Nasrallah intended to reinforce the deterrent message towards Israel by emphasizing Hezbollah’s military capabilities, especially high-precision missiles enabling Hezbollah to damage essential infrastructure facilities in the next war." Public threats of the same sort were made by Hassan Nasrallah in other interviews.

[8] The organization deals mainly with planting trees in various locations in south Lebanon.

[9] For further information, see the October 14, 2009 bulletin, "Explosions at Hezbollah arms caches in villages south of the Litani (Tair Filsay and Khirbet Silim) prove the organization maintains an active military infrastructure in south Lebanon. UNIFIL and the Lebanese army are helpless to prevent Hezbollah’s military buildup, which is a gross violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. "Also see the August 3, 2009 bulletin, "Explosion in Hezbollah weapons depot in the village of Khirbet Silim exposes the existence of an active Hezbollah military infrastructure south of the Litani river. UNIFIL and the Lebanese army are shown helpless and unable to prevent Hezbollah’s military buildup, a gross and flagrant violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701."