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October 4, 2006

UNIFIL says could resort to ‘use of force beyond self-defense’

Filed under: Mellemøsten, UN — limewoody @ 3:53 pm
By Shlomo Shamir, Haaretz Correspondent, DPA and Haaretz Service

The United Nations explained Tuesday the “rules of engagement” that will be used by its peacekeepers who are supervising a cease-fire in south Lebanon between Hezbollah and Israel since August 14.

The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said it could resort to the “use of force beyond self-defense,” but did not give details on the means which will be used.

“UNIFIL commanders have sufficient authority to act forcefully when confronted with hostile activity of any kind,” a UN statement said.

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“All UNIFIL personnel may exercise the inherent right of self-defense. In addition, the use of force beyond self-defense may be applied to ensure that UNIFIL’s area of operations,” it said.

According to the statement the UN mandate is aimed at protecting “UN personnel, facilities, installations and equipment; ensuring the security and freedom of movement of UN personnel and humanitarian workers; and protecting civilians under imminent threat of physical violence.”

?Should the situation present any risk of resumption of hostile activities, UNIFIL rules of engagement allow UN forces to respond as required,? UNIFIL stated in a press release issued Tuesday, in regard to the mandate given to UN forces under the UN security council?s resolution 1701.

According to UNIFIL, “in cases where specific information is available regarding movement of unauthorized weapons or equipment, the LAF [Lebanese Armed Forces] will take required action. However, in situations where the LAF are not in a position to do so, UNIFIL will do everything necessary to fulfill its mandate in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1701.”

Issues dealt with in the UNIFIL statement were discussed this past week by Israeli representatives, the Lebanese Army, and UNIFIL officers in southern Lebanon. Israeli representatives said that under Resolution 1701, UNIFIL forces must work to locate and identify Hezbollah weapons and ammunition stores, and that in instances where UNIFIL encounters Hezbollah members, to remove their weapons from them. This issue was later removed from the agreement.

The release further stated that UNIFIL has deployed 5,200 soldiers, out of a maximum 15,000 allowed under Security Council resolution 1701.

It said UNIFIL, whose task is to support the Lebanese army in the area, “has set up temporary checkpoints at key locations within its area of operations.”

It added that Lebanese troops have established “permanent checkpoints… to stop and search passing vehicles and would act if they find unauthorized weapons.”

UN Security Council Resolution 1701 which ended the war on August 14 calls for peacekeepers to monitor the southern Lebanese border region along the border with Israel and make sure it is “free of any armed personnel other than those of the Lebanese armed forces and UNIFIL.”

Since the cease-fire, Hezbollah guerrillas have kept out of sight in southern Lebanon, but their chief Hassan Nasrallah has rejected in several speeches the laying down his movement’s arms as required by the UN resolution.

Hezbollah official in southern Lebanon Sheikh Nabil Kawook said Tuesday that “Hezbollah guerrillas are still in the border areas with Israel with their weapons.”

“I tell [Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert, our guerrillas are still there, but not visible, so nothing has changed since July 12,” the Hezbollah official said.

Israel launched a offensive against Lebanon on July 12 in response to the cross-border kidnapping of two of its soldiers by Hezbollah.

http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/770012.html

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