(Basel Awidat/Flash90)

“When the time comes, they will pay the price,” said Maj. Gen. Amir Baram, the head of the IDF’s Northern Command.

By Pesach Benson, United with Israel

Hezbollah has been accelerating its construction of military infrastructure along the Israel-Lebanon border, prompting an IDF general to vow Israel will “reduce it to nothing” on Tuesday.

“Recently, Hezbollah has intensified construction on its posts right here along the border,” said Maj. Gen. Amir Baram, the head of the IDF’s Northern Command.

Baram was addressing an annual memorial ceremony for soldiers killed during the Second Lebanon War.

“We can see the operatives approaching the border area. We know them: their names, where they come from and where they are working. When the time comes, they will pay the price.”

He insisted the IDF will “destroy all the infrastructure” built up by Hezbollah and “reduce it to nothing.”

Baram also took a dig at peacekeeping mission of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

“Hezbollah is continuing to build its terrorist assets despite the presence of UNIFIL forces close to its positions.”

He wryly added, “Don’t worry, we never rely on anyone else for our safety.”

Baram’s comments follow on the heels of Hezbollah’s threat to attack Israel over offshore gas drilling in the Karish gas field, an area Lebanon claims as its own territorial waters.

Reuters quoted Hezbollah’s deputy leader, Naim Qassem, saying on Monday, “When the Lebanese state says that the Israelis are assaulting our waters and our oil, then we are ready to do our part in terms of pressure, deterrence and use of appropriate means – including force.”

The Israeli Navy is stepping up its protection of offshore gas fields.

UNIFIL, which has a maritime task force of five vessels, has not commented on the matter.

‘Neutered’ Peacekeepers

UNIFIL monitors were first deployed to southern Lebanon in 1978 to monitor the withdrawal of IDF forces following Operation Litani.

The week-long military operation to destroy Palestinian terror camps in southern Lebanon was launched in response to the Coastal Road massacre. In that attack, 11 Palestinian terrorists infiltrated Israel by sea and hijacked a bus, killing 35 Israelis and injuring 71.

The international peacekeeping mission was originally intended to be temporary. But the “interim” force has been serving in Lebanon for the past 44 years. The UN is required to renew UNIFIL’s mandate every two years.

The force is currently made up of 11,000 military and civilian personnel from 45 countries.

Israelis describe UNIFIL’s mandate and rules of engagement as leaving peacekeepers “neutered.”

UNIFIL came under especially harsh criticism after the IDF discovered numerous Hezbollah tunnels leading into Israel in 2018. A UNIFIL statement merely confirmed that the tunnels violated UN resolutions and promised to “communicate its preliminary findings to the appropriate authorities in Lebanon.”

Israel has accused UNIFIL of being biased towards the Palestinians and of not taking Hezbollah’s violations of UN Security Council resolution 1701 seriously. Resolution 1701 demands that southern Lebanon — the area between Lebanon’s Litani River and Israel — be “free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL.”

The resolution also calls for Hezbollah’s disarmament, but provides no mechanism to do so.

The Iran-backed terror group has an estimated 150,000 rockets and missiles.

Last year, Israel unsuccessfully sought the UN to reform UNIFIL by giving peacekeepers more freedom of movement and access in areas of southern Lebanon suspected of Hezbollah activity.