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August 27, 2006

UNIFIL broadcast Israeli troop movements

Filed under: Mellemøsten, UN — limewoody @ 7:47 am

Via IMRA:

What did you do in the war, UNIFIL?
You broadcast Israeli troop movements.
by Lori Lowenthal Marcus Weekly Standard
09/04/2006, Volume 011, Issue 47

[IMRA: For the UNIFIL reports:
http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/missions/unifil/unifilpress.htm ]
DURING THE RECENT month-long war between Hezbollah and Israel, U.N.
“peacekeeping” forces made a startling contribution: They openly published
daily real-time intelligence, of obvious usefulness to Hezbollah, on the
location, equipment, and force structure of Israeli troops in Lebanon.

UNIFIL–the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, a nearly 2,000-man
blue-helmet contingent that has been present on the Lebanon-Israel border
since 1978–is officially neutral. Yet, throughout the recent war, it posted
on its website for all to see precise information about the movements of
Israeli Defense Forces soldiers and the nature of their weaponry and
materiel, even specifying the placement of IDF safety structures within
hours of their construction. New information was sometimes only 30 minutes
old when it was posted, and never more than 24 hours old.

Meanwhile, UNIFIL posted not a single item of specific intelligence
regarding Hezbollah forces. Statements on the order of Hezbollah “fired
rockets in large numbers from various locations” and Hezbollah’s rockets
“were fired in significantly larger numbers from various locations” are as
precise as its coverage of the other side ever got.

This war was fought on cable television and the Internet, and a lot of
official information was available in real time. But the specific military
intelligence UNIFIL posted could not be had from any non-U.N. source. The
Israeli press–always eager to push the envelope–did not publish the
details of troop movements and logistics. Neither the European press nor the
rest of the world media, though hardly bastions of concern for the safety of
Israeli troops, provided the IDF intelligence details that UNIFIL did. A
search of Israeli government websites failed to turn up the details
published to the world each day by the U.N.
Inquiries made of various Israeli military and government representatives
and analysts yielded near unanimous agreement that at least some of UNIFIL’s
postings, in the words of one retired senior military analyst, “could have
exposed Israeli soldiers to grave danger.” These analysts, including a
current high ranking military official, noted that the same intelligence
would not have been provided by the U.N. about Israel’s enemies.

Sure enough, a review of every single UNIFIL web posting during the war
shows that, while UNIFIL was daily revealing the towns where Israeli
soldiers were located, the positions from which they were firing, and when
and how they had entered Lebanese territory, it never described Hezbollah
movements or locations with any specificity whatsoever.

Compare the vague “various locations” language with this UNIFIL posting from
July 25:

[ http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/missions/unifil/pr09.pdf ]

QUOTE

Yesterday and during last night, the IDF moved significant reinforcements,
including a number of tanks, armored personnel carriers, bulldozers and
infantry, to the area of Marun Al Ras inside Lebanese territory. The IDF
advanced from that area north toward Bint Jubayl, and south towards Yarun.

END QUOTE

Or with the posting on July 24, in which UNIFIL revealed that the IDF
stationed between Marun Al Ras and Bint Jubayl were “significantly
reinforced during the night and this morning with a number of tanks and
armored personnel carriers.”

This partiality is inconsistent not only with UNIFIL’s mission but also with
its own stated policies. In a telling incident just a few years back, UNIFIL
vigorously insisted on its “neutral ity”–at Israel’s expense.

On October 7, 2000, three IDF soldiers were kidnapped by Hezbollah just
yards from a UNIFIL shelter and dragged across the border into Lebanon,
where they disappeared. The U.N. was thought to have videotaped the incident
or its immediate aftermath. Rather than help Israel rescue its kidnapped
soldiers by providing this evidence, however, the U.N. obstructed the
Israeli investigation.

For months the Israeli government pleaded with the U.N. to turn over any
videotape that might shed light on the location and condition of its missing
men. And for nine months the U.N. stonewalled, insisting first that no such
tape existed, then that just one tape existed, and eventually conceding that
there were two more tapes. During those nine months, clips from the
videotapes were shown on Syrian and Lebanese television.

Explaining their eventual about-face, U.N. officials said the decision had
been made by the on-site commanders that it was not their responsibility to
provide the material to Israel; indeed, that to do so would violate the
peacekeeping mandate, which required “full impartiality and objectivity.”
The U.N. report on the incident was adamant that its force had “to ensure
that military and other sensitive information remains in their domain and is
not passed to parties to a conflict.”

Stymied in its efforts to recover the men while they were still alive,
Israel ultimately agreed to an exchange in January 2004: It released 429
Arab prisoners and detainees, among them convicted terrorists, and the
bodies of 60 Lebanese decedents and members of Hezbollah, in exchange for
the bodies of the three soldiers. Blame for the deaths of those three
Israelis can be laid, at least in part, at the feet of the U.N., which went
to the wall defending its inviolable pledge never to share military
intelligence about one party with another.

UNIFIL has just done what it then vowed it could never do. Once again, it
has acted to shield one side in the conflict and to harm the other. Why is
this permitted? For that matter, how did the U.N. obtain such detailed and
timely military intelligence in the first place, before broadcasting it for
Israel’s enemies to see?
====
Lori Lowenthal Marcus is president of the Zionist Organization of America,
Greater Philadelphia District.

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