UNIFIL Busier Protecting Themselves Than Tackling Hizbullah

[Jerusalem Post] Yaakov Katz - Concerns are mounting in the Israeli defense establishment over the possibility that European countries which contribute military forces to UNIFIL might begin to gradually reduce their participation in the peacekeeping force over the coming year. UNIFIL commander Maj.-Gen. Claudio Graziano was quoted as warning Lebanese leaders he met in Beirut last week that the tension in the south and a deepening political crisis in the country might prompt European countries "to withdraw from UNIFIL within less than four months." In addition, the IDF has recently lodged informal complaints with several European countries over the fact that their forces are involved more in protecting themselves from terror groups in southern Lebanon than in fulfilling their mission of preventing weapons smuggling and Hizbullah build-up. On Tuesday, Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz, head of Military Intelligence's research division, told a Knesset committee that Hizbullah was learning to adapt to the new reality in southern Lebanon where UNIFIL operates. According to defense officials, since the deaths of six Spanish soldiers in a terror attack in June, UNIFIL has been investing most of its resources in self-protection at the expense of conducting its missions.

2007-11-09 01:00:00

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