Lebanon, Hezbollah, and the Anniversary—and Failure—of Resolution 1701

August 8, 2023
Josh Lipowsky  —  CEP Senior Research Analyst

Over the past few months, Hezbollah, Iran’s Shiite terrorist proxy in Lebanon, has been making increasingly aggressive moves along the Lebanon-Israel border. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has noted the increased tensions along the border and called for calm, but for the past 17 years, Hezbollah has loudly rejected the authority of the United Nations, the Lebanese government, and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). While Hezbollah is in violation of multiple treaties and laws, August 11 marks a specific anniversary that should have limited the terror group but instead emboldened it.

Passed on August 11, 2006, in response to the 34-day war between Hezbollah and Israel, U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 called for the immediate cessation of hostilities by both sides and reaffirmed previous calls for Hezbollah to disarm. It explicitly stated that the area between the Litani River and the Blue Line demarcating the Lebanon-Israel border be free of all weapons and military personnel unaffiliated with the LAF or UNIFIL.

The impetus for Resolution 1701 stemmed from a Hezbollah cross-border raid into Israel on July 12, 2006, during which Hezbollah killed eight Israeli soldiers and captured two others. On July 13, Israel and Hezbollah began a 34-day war in which Hezbollah fired thousands of Iran-supplied rockets into Israeli territory. The conflict left 1,100 Lebanese and more than 150 Israelis dead. During the conflict, reports surfaced Hezbollah had launched missiles from civilian areas and used Lebanese civilians as human shields. The fighting abated with the passage of Resolution 1701, but in the ensuing years the terror group has expanded its presence in southern Lebanon. The international community may mark the 17th anniversary of Resolution 1701, but it’s more irrelevant than ever.  

On August 31, 2022, the U.N. Security Council unanimously voted to renew UNIFIL’s mandate for another year. The council condemned all violations of the Blue Line and reiterated the call for a weapons-free area between the Litani River and the Blue Line. The reality on the ground, however, is very different. Hezbollah possesses an estimated arsenal of almost 150,000 rockets and missiles that can reach anywhere in Israel. It is the strongest military power in Lebanon, even brazen enough to hold military displays and drills to showcase its power, all under the gaze of the international community.

Over the past two months alone, Hezbollah has systematically tested the Israeli border, pushing a conflict with Israel closer to reality. In June, Hezbollah crossed the border and set up an outpost in the disputed Shebaa Farms territory held by Israel. Though it removed one of two tents it erected after Israel lodged a complaint with UNIFIL, Hezbollah left the other and threatened to unleash its wrath if Israel made any attempt to remove it. On July 6, Hezbollah launched an anti-tank missile toward the disputed village of Ghajar in northern Israel, and on July 12 a group of Hezbollah fighters attempted to blow a hole in the border fence separating Israel and Lebanon. Later in July, Israel recorded several armed Hezbollah members patrolling along the U.N.-demarcated border with Israel. They did not cross the Blue Line into Israel, yet the incident represented another flagrant violation of U.N. Resolution 1701 and example of Hezbollah’s continued armed presence in southern Lebanon.

Hezbollah’s role in the Lebanese government, particularly its orchestration of the current political crisis, makes the situation even more precarious. Lebanon’s government remains without a president as it faces the most serious economic and social crisis in its history. Hezbollah and its allies in the Lebanese parliament have blocked the election of a new president since the end of Michel Aoun’s term in October 2022. Prime Minister Najib Mikati leads a caretaker government that does not have the full authority to govern. Lebanon is in danger of becoming a failed state.

Israel has sought a diplomatic solution to Hezbollah’s outpost in Ghajar, but Israeli leaders are increasingly concerned about all-out war as Hezbollah continues to escalate its actions and its rhetoric. A new conflict would undoubtedly unleash devastating physical destruction and death on both sides. With UNIFIL’s mandate again up for renewal at the end of August, the U.N. Security Council should finally give the force the authority to keep Hezbollah in check. Removing Hezbollah completely from southern Lebanon is the ideal outcome but may be unfeasible given Hezbollah’s strength. The international community has loudly condemned Hezbollah through resolutions such as 1701, but UNIFIL has remained little more than an observer of Hezbollah’s growing military might and willingness to challenge the Israeli border. If UNIFIL does not act, Israel will eventually conclude only its military can stop Hezbollah’s incursions.

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.


On May 8, 2019, Taliban insurgents detonated an explosive-laden vehicle and then broke into American NGO Counterpart International’s offices in Kabul. At least seven people were killed and 24 were injured.

View Archive