Tension flares up between IDF and UN in Lebanon

As tensions rise between IDF and the UNIFIL force in Lebanon, an increasing number of influential Israelis say that the UN force is a liability and its presence no longer needed.

Tensions are running high between IDF and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFL). An increasing number of Israeli officials question UNIFIL’s legitimacy and relevance in Lebanon.

“UNIFIL was supposed to be the enforcement apparatus for Security Council Resolution 1701,” a high-placed Israeli military source said on condition of anonymity to the Al-Monitor.

“But in actual fact, it has become only a fig leaf for that resolution. UNIFIL whitewashes Hezbollah activity on the ‘Blue Line’ [border], and serves as an excuse for Hezbollah and the Lebanese government to violate the UN resolution and ratchet up tensions along the border. We no longer need this force here any longer. Better to remain with only the coordination and liaison units, and that’s all,” he added.

During the American UN Ambassador Nikki Haley’s visit to Israel in early June, the strained relationship between Israel and UNIFIL deteriorated even further. Haley had traveled to Israel’s border with Lebanon together with the IDF’s deputy chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi ,and Brig. Gen. Amir Baram.

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Kibbutz Misgav Am, which abuts the Lebanese border, was chosen as an observation point for the US Ambassador and the IDF generals.

The Irish UNIFIL commander, Maj. Gen. Michael Beary, denied the presence of Hezbollah positions on the Lebanese side, which Haley had witnessed with her own eyes. This led to a heated argument between Beary and Kochavi.

“We have a terrible crisis with UNIFIL,” Al-Monitor was informed by a senior IDF officer.

“Now, when the word is out and the whole world has seen the pictures, it will be impossible to deny Hezbollah’s violations any longer. Unfortunately, UNIFIL assists Hezbollah in whitewashing the truth. Under the current state of affairs, there is no point for UNIFIL battalions to remain on the scene. They cause more harm than good. They do what Hezbollah tells them to do. They don’t dare raise their heads and carry out their duties, so the appropriate thing now is for them to vacate the premises.”

The UN continues to deny Hezbollah’s presence alongside the Israeli-Lebanese border, which has resulted in continued low trust  between Israel and the UN.

By: Daniel Krygier, World Israel News