The IMRA news analysis agency reports that while Hizbullah brags about crippling the UNIFIL peacekeeping force in Lebanon, UN chief Ban Ki-moon blames Israel for “stirring up trouble.”
IMRA’s Dr. Aaron Lerner quotes two reports of the past two days showing how the UN refrains from seeing the large picture in southern Lebanon.
The UNIFIL peace-keeping force has been charged, since the end of the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006, with keeping the Hizbullah terrorist organization out of southern Lebanon. However, Hizbullah terrorists and sympathizers there have recently taken to harassing and even attacking UNIFIL forces, leading to at least one injured soldier and the loss of weapons.
The head of the Hizbullah faction in the Lebanese parliament, Mohammed Raad, has even been quoted as bragging that UNIFIL had lost its ability to move freely south of the Litani River – prompting a lukewarm UN complaint. “UNIFIL’s freedom of movement was violated and UN troop-contributing countries are quite concerned,” said Michael Williams, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon. “We must insist that the freedom of movement of UNIFIL is fully respected.”
“Senior IDF officers” have been quoted in Israeli media as saying that Hizbullah has turned 160 villages and towns in southern Lebanon into military compounds from where it can fire its array of rockets at Israel.
At the same time, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “blamed the messenger” this week, when he condemned President Shimon Peres and other Israelis for accusing Hizbullah of acquiring advanced Scud missiles from Syria. "Rhetoric escalated rapidly, creating a perception in the public that a resumption of conflict was imminent," Ban wrote in a Friday report to the UN Security Council.
Though senior IDF Military Intelligence officer Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz met in New York last week with top UN officials and presented evidence of Hizbullah’s re-arming and attacks on UN troops, Ban had nothing bad to say about Hizbullah. He wrote only that the UN could not verify the Israeli reports of new missiles for Hizbullah, citing Syrian and Lebanese denials to shore up his position.
Ban wrote that President Peres led the way by publicly accusing Hezbollah of acquiring missiles, followed by similar statements by other senior Israeli officials. He said that these charges created a war-charged atmosphere.
He added, in contrast to his representative in Lebanon, the above-quoted Michael Williams, that UNIFIL enjoys "freedom of movement" in all of southern Lebanon.