1. The present report provides a comprehensive assessment of the implementation of Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) since the previous report, issued on 14 July 2022 (S/2022/556), including on the provisions of resolution 2650 (2022). Outstanding obligations remain for both parties under resolution 1701 (2006). On 27 October, Lebanon and Israel exchanged separate letters with the United States of America, noting their agreement to the terms related to the establishment of a permanent maritime boundary between them. There was no progress towards a permanent ceasefire between Lebanon and Israel.
II. Implementation of resolution 1701 (2006)
A. Situation in the area of operations of UNIFIL
2. Some tensions persisted in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) area of operations. UNIFIL observed illumination rounds, fired by the Israel Defense Forces, in response to what the latter asserted were suspicious activities, and impacting north of the Blue Line close to Shab‘a on 21 August and close to Ghajar on 6 September and 23 October (both Sector East). On 22 August, UNIFIL detected a mortar shell, fired from an area north of Shab‘a and landing within Lebanon. UNIFIL dispatched air and vehicle patrols to the suspected launch site. Six individuals, three of whom carried assault rifles, stopped one of the vehicle patrols and gestured for it to leave the area. Subsequently, UNIFIL, in coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces, visited the suspected impact point, but no remnants of a mortar round were found. A UNIFIL visit to the suspected launch site is pending facilitation by the Lebanese Armed Forces.
3. UNIFIL observed individuals throwing stones at the Israeli technical fence on numerous occasions, in particular near Shaykh Abbad’s tomb in Hula, in Mays al-Jabal (both Sector East), and in Bustan (Sector West). The Israel Defense Forces pointed their weapons at individuals approaching the Blue Line on at least 14 occasions and fired rounds in the air on at least 13 occasions in Hula and Shab‘a. The most serious such incident occurred in Hula on 28 August, when the Israel Defense Forces fired approximately 30 rounds in the air and launched two tear gas grenades and three smoke grenades after individuals had approached the Blue Line. Two of the smoke grenades landed in a nearby UNIFIL position. UNIFIL has launched an investigation into the incident. On 14 October, an Israel Defense Forces soldier threw two stun grenades, which landed north of the Blue Line in Hula. Instances of weaponpointing across the Blue Line also continued, with UNIFIL interposing between the parties on 18 September in Majidiyah (Sector East). On 17 October, the Israel Defense Forces fired four flares, two of which landed north of the Blue Line near Hula.
4. From 21 June to 2 November, UNIFIL concluded investigations into four incidents described in the previous report (S/2022/556): an illumination shell, fired by Israel Defense Forces across the Blue Line and landing in Lebanon on 14 April; a rocket, fired from Lebanon by unknown parties and landing in Israel on 25 April, and indirect artillery fired by Israel Defense Forces in response; illumination shells fired from Israel across the Blue Line on 17 May; and an Israel Defense Forces drone found near Rumaysh (Sector West) on 26 May. The findings of the investigations were shared with the parties. On 31 August and 5 September, the General Directorate of General Security of Lebanon facilitated the return of equipment seized from UNIFIL peacekeepers during incidents that occurred in 2021 and 2022.
5. The Israel Defense Forces continued the construction of their T-wall south of the Blue Line, from Shlomi to Hanita and from Zar’it to Biranit (see S/2022/556, para. 7). The construction of the wall, which has reached a length of 7.9 km, remains outside the Lebanese “reservation areas” north of Shlomi and east of Alma al-Sha’b and Hanita.
6. The Israel Defense Forces continued to enter Lebanese airspace in violation of resolution 1701 (2006) and of Lebanese sovereignty. Between 21 June and 2 November, UNIFIL recorded 207 airspace violations, totalling 257 hours and six minutes in overflight time. Uncrewed aerial vehicles accounted for approximately 96.7 per cent of the violations. On 18 July, the Israel Defense Forces informed UNIFIL that they had downed a drone south of the Blue Line. UNIFIL did not observe the incident.
7. From 21 June to 2 November, UNIFIL observed 432 ground violations by Lebanese civilians crossing south of the Blue Line, including 290 violations by shepherds and farmers and 8 by individuals near the Shu’ayb well, close to Blida. Lebanese Armed Forces soldiers crossed the Blue Line in Hula on 9 and 10 August while monitoring groundworks by the Israel Defense Forces south of the Blue Line. Israel Defense Forces soldiers crossed the Blue Line in Bastrah, Kfar Shuba (both Sector East) and Ayta al-Sha‘b (Sector West) on 13 and 30 August and on 21 September while patrolling. The Israel Defense Forces informed UNIFIL that they had apprehended an individual who had crossed the Blue Line near Hula on 26 July and two other individuals on 29 September. All three individuals were released within two days.
8. The occupation of northern Ghajar and the adjacent area north of the Blue Line by the Israel Defense Forces is a continuing violation of resolution 1701 (2006). While the Government of Lebanon has welcomed the UNIFIL proposal of 2011 for the facilitation of the withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces from the occupied area of northern Ghajar and an adjacent area north of the Blue Line, the Government of Israel has yet to respond. The Israel Defense Forces continued roadworks in the area (see S/2022/556, para. 6). UNIFIL has requested the Israel Defense Forces to cease the works.
9. To help keep the area between the Blue Line and the Litani River free of unauthorized armed personnel, assets and weapons, UNIFIL, in close coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces, maintained 16 permanent checkpoints, and a monthly average of 124 temporary checkpoints and 316 counter-rocket-launching operations. In the reporting period, the average percentage of total operations that could be conducted in close coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces was maintained at 19.8 per cent.
10. UNIFIL observed unauthorized weapons in its area of operations on 196 occasions, including pistols observed on four occasions and assault weapons observed on three occasions. UNIFIL also observed individuals with assault rifles at the firing ranges in Zibqin (Sector West) and Qantarah (Sector East) on 15 occasions (see S/2022/556, para. 10). UNIFIL further observed a progressive upgrade of facilities and the installation of permanent structures at these firing ranges. No weapons were observed at the firing ranges in Furn and Dayr Amis (Sector West) during the reporting period. All other observations of weapons related to hunters. UNIFIL informed the Lebanese Armed Forces of each of the incidents.
11. Pursuant to resolution 2650 (2022), UNIFIL maintained its high operational tempo and visible presence, undertaking an average of 14,139 monthly operational activities, including 6,401 vehicular, air or foot patrols. Air reconnaissance patrols continued over areas where ground patrols have limited access, including private property and land that are contaminated by explosive remnants of war or antipersonnel mines, and wadis. Some 10.3 per cent of UNIFIL operational activities included at least one woman peacekeeper.
12. Misleading information about UNIFIL and its role was circulated in the days following the adoption by the Security Council of resolution 2650 (2022). In that regard, some media and public figures questioned the right of UNIFIL to undertake patrols without the Lebanese Armed Forces. Such statements contributed to tension with local communities in the first half of September. To address the misperceptions, the mission engaged with local and international media, issuing statements and participating in interviews, underscoring the mission’s commitment to security and stability in South Lebanon. UNIFIL also emphasized that the Mission is mandated to patrol with or without Lebanese Armed Forces as an integral part of resolution 1701 (2006), and that UNIFIL is in Lebanon at the request of the Lebanese authorities and continues to coordinate its activities with the Lebanese Armed Forces.
13. While its freedom of movement was respected in most cases, the mission encountered several impediments in that regard (see annex I). The most serious incident occurred on 21 June, when several individuals entered a UNIFIL observation tower in Shab‘a and physically confronted a peacekeeper. On 22 August, armed individuals stopped a UNIFIL patrol in Shab‘a (see para. 2 above). Stones were thrown at UNIFIL patrols on 13 occasions, causing minor damage to UNIFIL vehicles on two occasions.
On 29 September and 3 October, individuals fired what appeared to be fireworks in the direction of a UNIFIL helicopter overflying the area near the firing range of Dayr Amis (Sector West). On 7 August, in Yarun, the Israel Defense Forces pointed weapons in the direction of UNIFIL personnel. On 22 August, an Israel Defense Forces soldier in Ghajar pointed a laser beam at peacekeepers in a watchtower. On 8 September, in connection with maintenance work, Israeli civilian workers in occupied northern Ghajar pushed boulders and soil from an elevated area onto an adjacent road north of the Blue Line, putting UNIFIL soldiers at risk and restricting UNIFIL access to the Blue Line. UNIFIL has since restored access to the area.
14. Despite repeated requests, UNIFIL has yet to gain full access to several locations of interest, including Green Without Borders sites, the tunnels crossing the Blue Line (see S/2019/237) and the aforementioned firing ranges. From 21 June to 2 November, UNIFIL observed the installation of new containers and prefabricated buildings at 10 sites along the Blue Line and the removal of four containers. As at 2 November, there were 17 containers observed at 16 sites. Some of these structures had visible Green without Borders markings. In identical letters dated 5 July from the Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations addressed to the SecretaryGeneral and the President of the Security Council (S/2022/535), the Permanent Representative stated: “The State of Israel demands that the United Nations and its relevant bodies act now in order to facilitate the dismantling of all Hezbollah outposts in southern Lebanon, and especially those military infrastructures recently erected along the Blue Line”. In identical letters dated 6 September from the Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council (S/2022/674), Israel expressed “growing concern at the installation of at least 21 ‘containers’ placed by Hezbollah along the Blue Line under the guise of Green Without Borders”. At five of these sites, UNIFIL access to the Blue Line was temporarily hindered. However, as of 18 October, UNIFIL has regained full access to the Blue Line at all five locations.
15. The UNIFIL Maritime Task Force continued to support maritime interdiction operations, hailing 2,940 vessels in the reporting period. The Lebanese Armed Forces inspected and cleared all 512 vessels referred to them by UNIFIL for inspection.
16. Owing to a delay in the rotation of one vessel, the Task Force has been temporarily operating with four vessels and with no helicopter since August, which has created challenges in maintaining a permanent presence at sea covering all three maritime corridors. The replacement of the fifth vessel is scheduled for December.
17. UNIFIL and the Lebanese Navy continued preparatory steps for a partial transfer of Task Force responsibilities. To that end, the Lebanese Navy participated in maritime interdiction operations along with the Task Force. There were 280 training sessions and exercises conducted, including the joint practice of common operational standards for commanding, monitoring and hailing activities. The participation of the Lebanese Navy continued to fluctuate owing to resource constraints and maintenance requirements.
18. The Lebanese Armed Forces and UNIFIL continued their engagement within the framework of the strategic dialogue process. In that regard, on 11 October, a seniorlevel meeting was held between UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces to start the development of benchmarks and timelines for an effective and durable deployment of the Lebanese Armed Forces in southern Lebanon and the territorial waters of Lebanon. As of 2 November, 62 personnel, including 10 women, have been deployed to the Lebanese Armed Forces model regiment. The Lebanese Armed Forces have not been able to fully utilize their newly inaugurated headquarters owing to a lack of fuel to power water pumps and generators.
19. Pursuant to paragraph 11 of resolution 2650 (2022), UNIFIL resumed the temporary provision of non-lethal material and support to the Lebanese Armed Forces. Since 30 September, 80,000 litres of fuel and approximately 60,000 meals have been provided. As the signature of a new memorandum of understanding remains pending, handover certificates were utilized for the purpose of accountability.
Source: UN Security Council