Op-Ed: UNIFIL'S Unusefullness
Lebanon and its army, rather than Hizbollah, is responsible for an unprovoked and unwarranted attack on Israel.
The U.N. peacekeeping force in south Lebanon, UNIFIL, confirmed that Israel was cutting down trees only on the Israeli side of the border, the Associated Press reported.
Israeli soldiers were conducting routine operations when they were fired upon by the Lebanese army, resulting in the death of Lt. Col. Dov Harari. The attack came despite Israel informing UNIFIL of its pending actions prior to entering the area. After the 2006 Israel-Hizballah war, UNIFIL was charged with preventing border provocations and ensuring that the Iranian-backed terrorist army would not be able to rearm. However, tensions have remained high along the border and Hizballah has tripled its rocket arsenal in just four years.
Hizballah is an Iranian-backed terrorist network supported with global reach that poses a direct threat to Israel and to American interests at home and abroad. Hizballah has killed more Americans than any terrorist group other than al-Qaeda and has launched dozens of attacks against Israel since it withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000. Today, the U.S.-designated terrorist group holds veto power over the Lebanese government with 11 cabinet positions at the same time it has amassed as many as 60,000 short- and long-range rockets aimed at Israel.
Hizballah has more than 40,000 rockets aimed at Israel.
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) analysts believe that the Lebanese sniper fire at the Israel-Lebanon border on Tuesday, which killed Lt. Col. Dov Harari and seriously wounded Captain Ezra Lakia, was in fact an ambush planned by a Lebanese officer who was encouraged by his commanders, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.
As in previous cases of such Israeli activity, the Lebanese army deployed soldiers to the area. After a round of yelling, unanswered by the Israeli troops, Lebanese snipers opened deliberate fire at the IDF observation post several hundred meters into Israel, the IDF said. Harari and Lakia had manned the observation post, and both sustained serious gunfire wounds. According to information gathered by the IDF, the sniper fire was ordered by a commanding officer within the Lebanese army.
UNIFIL was mandated my the United Nations to restore peace. Safety, security and tranquility to the Lebanon-Israel border.
Originally, UNIFIL was established by the Security Council in March 1978 by its resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978) to:
- Confirm Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon;
- Restore international peace and security; and
- Assist the Lebanese Government in restoring its effective authority in the area.
The concept of UNIFIL operations had to be adjusted twice: following the 1982 Israeli-Lebanese war when the UNIFIL positions were overrun and its functions were limited primarily to humanitarian assistance; and after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon to the Blue Line in 2000, enabling the Force to resume its military functions.
Following the July/August 2006 Israeli-Hizbullah war, the Security Council, by resolution 1701 (2006) of 11 August 2006, has significantly enhanced UNIFIL and expanded its original mandate to:
- Monitor the cessation of hostilities;
- Accompany and support the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) as they deploy throughout the South, as Israel withdraws its armed forces from Lebanon;
- Coordinate these activities with the Governments of Lebanon and Israel;
- Extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons;
- Assist the LAF in taking steps towards the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL deployed in this area;
- Assist the Government of Lebanon in securing its borders and other entry points to prevent the entry in Lebanon without its consent of arms or related materiel.
UNIFIL has largely been under siege from Hizbollah and has largely been unsuccessful in preventing escalation of arms and border tensions.
15,000 troops, supported by international and local civilian staff, including 11,453 total uniformed personnel 313 international civilian, 653 local civilian staff and 50 UNTSO military observers of the Observer Group Lebanon from Bangladesh, Belgium, Brunei, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, El Salvador, France, FYR of Macedonia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Nepal, Nigeria, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Spain, Tanzania and Turkey, has completely failed and has not been enough to prevent a total of 288 fatalities including 272 troops, 2 military observers, 8 international civilians and 6 local civilian of the peacekeeping forces.
Major General Alberto Asarta Cuevas (Spain) - UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander - has valiantly led UNIFIL despite the fact UNIFFIL is failing its fight to restore safety and security in the region.
It is nearly impossible for UNIFIL to pressure peace on an unwilling Lebanon who is the proxy of the Iran-Syria alliance and “axis of evil” committed to the destruction of Israel
Gary Fitleberg is a Political Analyst specializing in International Relations with emphasis on Middle East affairs.