Spokesman: UNIFIL Role not to Police Lebanese-Israeli Border
The spokesman for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Timour Goksel, told AFP Tuesday that UNIFIL's role was not to police the Israeli-Lebanese border.
"Our mission as set out by the resolutions (425 and 426) of the Security Council is not to act as the sole police force on the Israeli-Lebanese border, but to help the Lebanese authorities to re-establish their authority up to the international border," he said.
"In coordination with the Lebanese security forces we are able to maintain order, but not by ourselves. We are not sandbags. We refuse to act as targets," he added.
"We are not mandated to stop Palestinian demonstrations on the border and if we did so we would be accused of protecting Israel," he said.
The last demonstration on the Lebanese-Israeli border Saturday left two Palestinians dead and 17 wounded, after Israeli troops opened fire on hundreds of people throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at them.
Goksel also added that "it is not UNIFIL that made an opening in the metal fencing," through which Hizbollah fighters passed through to attack an Israeli position and capture three Israeli soldiers.
The personal representative of the UN secretary general in southern Lebanon, Rolf Knutsson, again called on Lebanese President, Emile Lahoud, Monday for official Lebanese forces to establish their authority on the border with Israel.
He said that Lahoud had made no commitment to any specific action.
Lebanon has sent 1,000 men to southern Lebanon -- 500 soldiers and 500 police -- into the border zone from which Israel withdrew May 24, but they have not been deployed directly on the border.
Israel has complained about the lack of intervention either by the United Nations or Lebanon to halt incidents.
Beirut held back its forces from a full deployment up to the border after Israel ended its 22-year occupation of southern Lebanon in May, saying there first must be a "just and comprehensive peace" in the region.
Observers say Syria, which controls political decision-making in Lebanon, prefers to keep the situation on the border volatile to further its own dealings with Israel - BEIRUT (AFP)
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