Nasrallah’s Announcement of ‘Rules of Engagement’ Change Undermines Resolution 1701
The drone attack on the southern suburb of Beirut marked a turning point in the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel, and changed the “rules of engagement” adopted since August 14, 2006, pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1701.
This was underscored by Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah who announced a change in the “rules of the game” and threatened to retaliate against Israel from inside Lebanon.
The new developments raised questions about the fate of resolution 1701, while Lebanese political leaders expressed their commitment to the international decision and to its implementation in coordination with the Lebanese Army and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
In this regard, sources in Al-Mustaqbal party, which is led by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the latter kicked off a series of internal and external contacts to contain the situation and to hold Israel responsible for the attack against Lebanese sovereignty.
“That’s what he openly told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo,” the sources remarked, stressing that Lebanon “is more committed than ever to resolution 1701.”
The resolution helped end the 33-day July 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel that erupted when the party carried out a cross-border raid into Israel.
Hezbollah blames Israel for the recent escalation.
A source close to the party told Asharq Al-Awsat that resolution 1701 “has been violated since 2006 by the Israeli enemy.”
“Nasrallah’s words were clear in terms of changing the rules of engagement and his right to respond to the aggression from any Lebanese region, whether across the Blue Line or from within the occupied Shebaa Farms or from the sea,” the sources said.
They added that the international resolution is worthless if it failed to protect Lebanese sovereignty and citizens from Israeli threats.
The recent Israeli violation in the southern suburbs was not a unique case, according to military and strategic expert Brigadier General Khaled Hamadeh.
“Resolution 1701 has not been respected since 2006 and is being violated on a daily basis, whether by Israel, through its air and sea breaches of Lebanese sovereignty, or by Hezbollah, and its claim that it is charged, alone, with the task of defending Lebanon,” he noted.
Observers dismissed Nasrallah’s threats of a harsh response to Israel, as long as the party’s official sponsor – Tehran - does not want a major escalation that could lead to an uncalculated war.
“Nasrallah’s threats have been heard a lot, but the decision to retaliate is made in Tehran,” said Hamadeh. “I think Iran is not in a position to make such a decision, because it is currently facing a crisis with the international community and the European Union because of US sanctions.”