- Jul 16, 2006
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- תל אביב
- Political Leaning
AFPUN force under pressure four years after Lebanon war
By Rana Moussaoui (AFP) – 7 hours ago
BEIRUT — Four years after a devastating war between Israel and Hezbollah, the UN forces keeping them apart in southern Lebanon are under mounting strain amid fears of a fresh conflict and hostility from villagers.
For decades UNIFIL has maintained good relations with the people of southern Lebanon, offering them education and health services in addition to their peacekeeping duties. But in a rare string of events this month, villagers attacked the multinational force after taking to the streets to protest a 36-hour maximum deployment exercise by UNIFIL.
In the most notable confrontation, residents of the southern town of Tulin disarmed a French patrol and attacked them with sticks, rocks and eggs before the Lebanese army intervened. Michael Williams, the UN special coordinator for Lebanon, described some of the protests as "clearly organised," singling out one encounter he said involved about 100 villagers. The UN Security Council on Friday unanimously approved a statement of support for its peacekeeping mission in Lebanon and called on all parties in the country to allow the forces to move freely.
In a related story....
Ha'aretzIDF reveals intel on huge Hezbollah arms stockpile in southern Lebanon
Published 00:54 08.07.10
By Anshel Pfeffer
Nearly four years after the Second Lebanon War, Israel published maps yesterday showing arms caches in some 160 southern Lebanon villages. In a rare move declassifying confidential intelligence information, the Israel Defense Forces told reporters that Hezbollah has some 40,000 short-, medium- and long-range missiles, and a force of 20,000 guerrilla fighters based throughout southern Lebanon.
Many of the arms caches are stored in private homes, which in the event of war could turn into IDF military targets. In Beirut, one Hezbollah official told reporters he would not comment on the information provided by the IDF before seeing it himself.
Hezbollah's operation has been limited considerably by the presence of UNIFIL troops deployed in southern Lebanon. In recent days, however, residents of southern Shi'ite villages sympathetic to Hezbollah have blocked the UN monitors from entering their communities. Virtually every Shi'ite village in southern Lebanon functions as a kind of military post, including control centers, underground supply tunnels and storage of arms caches. Most villages host cells of between 30 and 200 Hezbollah fighters trained in field operations and rocket launching. IDF planners believe that in the event of war, Hezbollah will fire between 600 and 800 rockets a day at Israel.
Yesterday the military revealed intelligence on one southern Lebanon village, Khiam, 20 kilometers from the northern Israeli city of Kiryat Shmona. The village of 23,000 is said to include at least 10 weapons storage sites - some of them just dozens of meters from schools or hospitals - and upon the outbreak of war would likely provide a haven for at least 90 Hezbollah fighters. Over the last few months, farmers working land close to the border have reported more sightings of Hezbollah fighters perched at reconnaissance towers overlooking Israel.
Many of them, the farmers said, were accompanied by individuals speaking Iran's dominant language, Farsi. Hezbollah is believed to be operating in conjunction with hundreds of Iranian advisers, led by Hossein Mahdavi - the head of the Lebanon Corps of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard - stationed in Beirut.
IAF drone harvesting intel/video data over Khaim, Lebanon
Both articles strongly suggest that Hezbollah is rearming in southern Lebanon with the knowledge and complicity of southern Lebanese civilians.