UN ignoring Hizballah activity in Lebanon

Sunday, July 19, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

An Israeli government official told Ha'aretz at the weekend that last Tuesday's accidental explosion at a Hizballah rocket depot in southern Lebanon was not an isolated incident, but that UN forces on the ground there are routinely choosing to ignore Lebanese violations of the resolution that ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

The stockpile of Katyusha rockets in the southern Lebanon village of Hirbet Salim only came to public attention when it blew up and killed a handful of Hizballah fighters. But the Israeli source said that UNIFIL, the UN force tasked with preventing another terrorist assault on Israel from Lebanese territory, knew of its location for many months before that.

In fact, UNIFIL knows about a lot of Hizballah locations and activity in southern Lebanon, but is choosing to do nothing about it, in violation of its mandate, the source complained.

In light of the explosion in Hirbet Salim, UNIFIL felt compelled to act in some way, so sent a detachment of soldiers to investigate the area on Saturday. But those soldiers were stopped and violently confronted by local Lebanese who refused to let them look into what Hizballah was doing in their village.

Instead of forcefully fulfilling their mandate, the UN troops retreated.

Israeli officials say it is not uncommon for UNIFIL to abandon monitoring missions when it faces even the most mild resistance. Jerusalem hopes that when UNIFIL's mandate comes up for review in late August, the Security Council will grant it far greater authority to act against those who attempt to hinder its mission.

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