Israel states that Hizbullah has turned 160 Shiite villages in southern Lebanon into military compounds containing rockets. In 2007, a roadside bomb killed six Spanish members of UNIFIL, known for particular diligence. In the past week, residents of some of Shiite villages harassed UNIFIL troops 20 times. In Kabarikha, residents threw stones at the troops, grabbed some of their weapons, climbed onto their truck, and dismantled the antenna. The Lebanese Army got the weapons back to UNIFIL. UN and Lebanese officials believe that much of the violence was committed by Hizbullah activists.
Indeed, the head of Hizbullah’s parliamentary faction says that these clashes have limited UNIFIL’s ability to perform its mission of keeping a Hizbullah military presence and arms out of southern Lebanon. UNIFIL’s commander asked the Lebanese government for protection.
UNIFIL tension with the Lebanese Army is growing. Israel believes that Shiite officers in the Lebanese Army coordinate these tensions with Hizbullah.
UN Secretary-General Ban issued a report blaming Israel entirely for border tension there. He attributes the tensions to Israeli accusations that Syria has given Hizbullah advanced missiles. Ban’s report, however, omitted mention of the many instances of Lebanese [Hizbullah] violence and interference with UNIFIL patrols.
Before Ban issued the report, Israel advised him of three of the instances in which Lebanese villagers harassed UN troops and stole their equipment. Israel also related to him the indications that the villagers were with, or instigated by, Hizbullah. Although the report mentioned five incidents in which UN troops were injured and a truck was stolen, Ban refused to blame Hizbullah (IMRA, 7/5/10).
Some time ago, I reported that Hizbullah was forcefully buying out non-Shiites from southern Lebanese villages. Obviously it was preparing for what Israel later reported as militarization of the border. It makes sense to suppose that Hizbullah ordered the intimidation of the UNIFIL troops, so it can have a free hand in militarizing the border.
As far as the jihadists are concerned, the UN has done its part, in getting Israel to withdraw from the war before destroying Hizbullah. Now, in typical Islamic style, Hizbullah is rearming for the next military engagement, regardless of the UN agreement. In view of all those Hizbullah violations of the ceasefire, it makes sense for Israel to at least record the enemy emplacements, before the enemy opens fire. That means over-flights, which violate the ceasefire. To wax indignant against the over-flights, as some do, and to ignore the provocative Hizbullah violations, as those same people do, is the kind of hypocrisy that facilitates Arab aggression again.
Peacekeepers can be effective either if heavily armed and numerous, or if the local populations want peace. UNIFIL apparently is too small and poorly armed a force to deal with Hizbullah, or is afraid to open fire. The local population is not interested in peace, being controlled as it is by Hizbullah. There was no point to assigning UNIFIL to keep the peace or in arranging the ceasefire, which saved the terrorist organization and gave it the opportunity to build itself into an army that intimidates UNIFIL.