UN troops salute terrorist coffins; Israel protests

Sunday, July 20, 2008 |  Israel Today Staff

Israel complained to the United Nations at the weekend after an Associated Press photograph showed two UN peacekeepers saluting the flag-draped coffins of Lebanese terrorists during last week's Israel-Hizballah prisoner exchange.

During the first phase of the exchange, Israel turned over the bodies of eight Lebanese and Palestinian terrorists killed in more recent action against Israel.

The eight coffins were placed on a flatbed trailer and driven down a red carpet amidst celebrating crowds in the Lebanese border town of Naqoura. As Lebanese soldiers and Hizballah militants raised their arms in salute, at least two members of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) followed their example.

Outgoing Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman told Israel National News in response that it is "a very tragic and sad day for the United Nations when its soldiers who were sent [to Lebanon] because of Hizballah terrorist activities salute the terrorists and the killers."

Gillerman demanded that the two offending soldiers be dismissed from the force sent back to their country of origin.

A UNIFIL spokeswoman rejected the demand in an interview with Fox News, insisting that the force's troops will continue to solute flag-draped coffins from both sides because it is "an impartial force."

UNIFIL, which had for decades failed to prevent terrorist violence against Israel emanating from southern Lebanon, was boosted to about 10,000 troops in the wake of the Second Lebanon War. The Security Council resolution that ended that conflict mandated UNIFIL to enforce the removal and disarmament of all terrorist militias in southern Lebanon and to prevent aggression against the Jewish state.

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