Kofi Annan has blamed Israel for violating the ceasefire after it launched a raid against an arms shipment to the Bekka Valley. But Annan's position is not - nor can it be - supported by the actual ceasefire resolution, UNSCR 1701 (2006).
Structurally, UNSCR 1701 does two things: first, it forces an immediate and temporary ceasefire based upon the cessation of actual hostilities; second, it calls for an international presence in southern Lebanon to help Lebanon maintain the ceasefire. Right now, we are somewhere between Stage 1 and Stage 2. So a resort to force is justified if it derives sanction from the actual text of UNSCR 1701 or a right enshrined in the UN Charter or in international law generally. With this as the standard, there is a case to be made that Israel's commando raid against an arms shipment in the Bekaa Valley is lawful.
Israel is pointing out (correctly) that the resolution bans offensive military operations; this is a truism since a Security Council resolution cannot ban defensive operations. Israel is claiming its actions are justified by the right of self-defense, which is given partial expression in Article 51 of the UN Charter. The key requirement here is that Israel's response be necessary and proportional.
It is certainly proportional, since a commando raid that results in little collateral damage is proportional to the threat posed by an arms shipment to Hezbollah, and the proximate relationship between that shipment and an attack on Israel's territorial integrity. But was it necessary? This is a more difficult question, but there is a strong case to be made that the answer is yes.
Operative Clause 8 of UNSCR 1701 calls upon Israel and Lebanon " to support a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution based on the following principles." It then goes on to define these principles, the support of which is necessary, by the resolution's own language, for a permanent ceasefire: subclauses 2,3 and 5 list those that I think are most relevant: removing armed personnel, assets and weapons unless those authorized by the government of Lebanon from south of the Litani; the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon; no sale or supply of arms and related material to Lebanon except as authorized by its government.
Before we reach Stage 2 of the ceasefire, the only parties capable of enforcing the terms of UNSCR 1701 are the governments of Israel and Lebanon, and nothing in the resolution precludes Israel from enforcing its terms, especially if this strengthens Israel's right of self defense. We should note that if the UN Security Council wanted Israel to remain uninvolved in the enforcement of the technical terms of the resolution, it could have done so. For example, when the Security Council authorized a coalition to use force against Iraq to remove it from Kuwait, the resolution was worded such that Israel could not be part of that coalition. Here, in the absence of such wording, Israel is fully justified in enforcing the resolution.
I eagerly await a press release from Kofi Annan criticizing the country that sent that shipment, which assuredly is in violation of UNSCR 1701. It is up to Israel and her allies to rebut the perfidious Kofi Annan when he tries to pin the blame for the collapse of his UN mission on Israel.