Hizbullah terrorists scared off UNIFIL armed forces last month after the armed international soldiers found a truck carrying arms and ammunition for the group.
According to Haaretz, which quotes an unnamed "source in Jerusalem," the UNIFIL troops were on patrol and pulled the truck over. When they approached the vehicle, armed Hizbullah terrorists exited and threatened them at gunpoint. The UNIFIL troops returned to their cars and went back to their base.
The March 31 incident, which undercuts confidence in the ability of international troops to prevent the activities of the terrorist group in the region, was kept secret at the time. It was mentioned in a semi-yearly report submitted to the UN Security Council by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Hizbullah is not allowed to enter the area in which the weapons shipment was found according to UN Security Council Resolution 1701. The incident constitutes a major violation of the resolution, which Prime Minister Ehud Olmert counts among Israel's great successes of the Second Lebanon War.
Rules of Engagement Questioned, Hizbullah Threatens
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi announced last week that he would be reviewing the rules of engagement for the 2,500 Italian soldiers serving in the UN force, saying the troops were being prevented from reacting to certain situations. "We pledge our support for the strengthening of democracy (in Lebanon)," he said, "but we want to look at the rules of engagement. Our soldiers find themselves in a unique situation...because they cannot react. We will re-examine the rules of engagement."
The Hizbullah-led opposition in Lebanon warned against amending UNIFIL's rules of engagement, saying that it would change it into "occupation forces." The use of that language is meant to signal that Hizbullah terrorists would begin targeting UN forces in attacks.
"Any amendment would give the international forces the jurisdiction to use force and erect checkpoints outside its area of deployment," the statement said. "That would transcend on the Lebanese Army's authorities, and would change these forces' mandate from observing implementation of resolution 1701 to occupation forces."
Hizbullah Calls the Shots
Hizbullah is tightening its control over southern Beirut, according to a report in Al-Mustakabel translated by MEMRI. The group has recently clashed with Lebanese forces and forced them to abide by Hizbullah’s rules.
In one case, a Lebanese security official was kidnapped and questioned by Hizbullah agents after reportedly taking pictures of illegally built structures in a Hizbullah-friendly neighborhood. In another, members of Hizbullah forced the Lebanese police to release two men who had been arrested after they refused to stop for a routine inspection.
Maayana Miskin contributed to this report