“… For the first few hours, Hizbullah sealed off the area and refused to grant UNIFIL or the Lebanese army access.”
Hizballebanon Update. “UNIFIL: Lebanese arms cache a ‘serious violation’ of ceasefire,” by Yaakov Katz for the Jerusalem Post (with additional reporting by the Associated Press), July 15:
A day after Israel cried foul over an explosion that uncovered a hidden Hizbullah arms cache in southern Lebanon, the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon said Wednesday that storing the ammunition was a “serious violation” of the UN-brokered ceasefire that ended the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
According to estimates in the IDF’s Northern Command, Hizbullah has turned hundreds of homes in southern Lebanese villages into warehouses to store short- and medium-range Katyusha rockets.
The IDF released video footage taken from an Israeli aircraft, showing a home that had exploded on Tuesday in the village of Hirbet Selm – located some 20 kilometers north of the Lebanese border. The roof is seen in the footage with dozens of holes, which IDF ballistic experts said were the size of 122-mm. Katyusha rockets.
UNIFIL said that it considers the incident a “serious violation” of the UN resolution that ended the conflict, which specifies that there should be no presence of unauthorized assets or weapons in the area of operations.
Following the incident, Israeli defense officials accused Lebanon of violating United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701.
“This is a major violation of resolution 1701,” one Israeli official said. “The weaponry was stored inside a village and is proof of our longstanding claim that Hizbullah uses civilian infrastructure to hide its weaponry.”
Contrary to Lebanese media reports which claimed that the cache was hidden in the village before the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Israeli defense officials said that the weaponry was recently placed inside the storehouse.
According to the officials, the cache was hidden in a storehouse inside the village and contained dozens of 122mm Katyusha rockets as well as high-powered machine guns. Some of the rockets reportedly flew into the sky.
The blast took place at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, and for the first few hours, Hizbullah sealed off the area and refused to grant UNIFIL or the Lebanese army access. IDF sources said that the clearing of the home and the unexploded ordinance had taken over 24 hours.
The sources said the IDF had been aware prior to the explosion that the home was being used as a storehouse for weapons. Several months before the explosion, an IDF aircraft captured footage of several senior Hizbullah operatives entering an underground tunnel near the house and reappearing from an exit 700 m. away.
“This house was connected to an entire underground network that was built right under the noses of UNIFIL and the Lebanese army,” one IDF officer said. “This is a major violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701.”
The Katyusha rockets that went off in Hirbet Selm were being stored in a two-story home. It was unclear on which floor they were being stored, but the home was shown on Lebanese television in close proximity to other village buildings.
In addition to the 122-mm. rockets, IDF ballistic experts said it was likely that the home also contained mortar shells and additional types of ammunition.