BEIRUT: Israel’s envoy to the U.N. reportedly told the Security Council that Western Africa has become Hezbollah’s “power base,” as UNIFIL chief Maj. Gen. Paolo Serra called a tripartite meeting between the Lebanese and Israeli armies Wednesday.
Ron Prosor was quoted by Ynetnews Wednesday as telling the U.N. Security Council a day before that: “Israel is particularly concerned over Hezbollah’s use of the area [West Africa] as a base of terror operations. Criminal initiatives bolster Hezbollah’s efforts to create sleeper-cells in the area.”
He urged the council to act swiftly. “The world can’t stand idly by – this endangers not just Africa but innocent lives the world over, as we have seen in New Delhi, Tbilisi and Bangkok.”
Hezbollah, like Iran, has denied Israel’s accusations of involvement in several plots targeting Israeli diplomats in India, Georgia and Thailand.
Ynetnews also reported that Prosor told the Security Council that “Israel could play a key role in the global fight against the infiltration of crime-backed terror activity into Western Africa,” offering Israeli help in forming an international intelligence agency that would work to foil “terror” attacks worldwide.
There have been several media reports tying the financing of Hezbollah to businessmen in West Africa, who have allegedly aided the resistance group in arms smuggling operations.
A New York Times report released in mid-December said a U.S. probe into the Lebanese Canadian Bank, charged by the U.S. Treasury with money laundering and financing a “terrorist organization” last year, found that several businessmen – mainly Shiite, often known Hezbollah supporters – used the bank for businesses based in West Africa that appeared to be a front to enable Hezbollah to move funds.
In a speech earlier this month, Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah denied media reports that his group was involved in money laundering or drugs trafficking to fund the group’s resistance against Israel.
He also denied media reports that Hezbollah was involved in any commercial ventures in or outside Lebanon.
Meanwhile, Serra called for a tripartite meeting to place Thursday at the Ras al-Naqoura crossing between the Lebanese and Israeli armies, to discuss increased security measures along the Blue Line around the town of Kfar Kila, the site of previous security incidents between the two sides.
“In my contacts with both the parties, they made it clear that they do not want problems along the Blue Line,” Serra said. “They asked UNIFIL to assist them in putting in place additional security measures particularly in this area to prevent any escalatory incident that is clearly not in the interest of either side.”
In January Israeli military sources told AFP that Israel was liaising with Lebanese and U.N. officials on the idea of building an anti-sniper wall along the border between the Israeli settlement of Metula and Kfar Kila.