Hezbollah demands Israel ‘return’ Rosh Hanikra tunnel to Lebanon

Demand seen as attempt to scuttle efforts to resolve Israel-Lebanon maritime border.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

Hezbollah is now demanding that Israel “return” to Lebanon a Rosh HaNikra railway tunnel that has been closed since 1948.

“Our sovereign rights lie in our decision to restore every inch of the occupied tunnel, without compromising our decision to restore our land and sea borders as well,” said Ali Hamieh, the Hezbollah-allied caretaker Minister of Public Works on Monday.

The 695-meter-long Rosh HaNikra Tunnel was dug by the British army between 1942-1944 as part of Haifa-Beirut-Tripoli line to speed up military traffic during World War II.

Lebanon calls it the Naqoura Tunnel after a nearby Lebanese town.

In February 1948, the Palmach blew up a nearby rail bridge to prevent Arab weapons shipments from Lebanon. Rebuilding the bridge was considered too expensive and irrelevant in the absence of peace with Lebanon, so Israel filled the tunnel with concrete.

Hamieh associated the tunnel with Shebaa Farms, the Kfarshuba Hills and part of Israel’s offshore gas fields, according to Asharq al-Awsat, a London-based Arab daily.

Hezbollah’s demand for the tunnel is viewed as an attempt to scuttle efforts to resolve the maritime border.

The U.S. has been mediating talks to resolve the maritime border. Lebanon recently softened its demands on the Karish gas field, which lies in Israeli waters.

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However, Hezbollah sent a number of aerial drones towards that gas field in July in what appeared to be a show of force. The IDF downed the drones.