Lebanon got help to arrest “Israeli spies”, not from whom you’d suspect

Posted: June 14, 2009 by Jonathan Boyko in Hezbollah, IDF, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Own Articles, Terrorism

A masked man presents a futuristic calculator

YOU MIGHT REMEMBER the UNIFIL – the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. This is the organization that was hit by some flak recently, for assisting the Lebanese – particularly, Hizb Allah – in discovering the “Israeli spy ring” – a group of people allegedly spying for Israel for quite a while now.

After the report was released, some in Israel expressed their outrage over the the actions of the Force. After all, Israelis believed the UNIFIL was there – on the border between Israel and Lebanon – in order to halt attacks by both sides (not like anyone actually believed that). Thus, active participation of the Force in discovering and arresting members of the alleged spy ring seems outrageous to many Israel.

It shouldn’t be. The United Nations makes clear notion on UNIFIL’s mandate:

Originally, UNIFIL was created by the Security Council in 1978 to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, restore international peace and security and assist the Lebanese Government in restoring its effective authority in the area.

That is the major point many in Israel – and worldwide – miss, thus misinterpreting UNIFIL’s goals. UN website adds also, that after the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war

the Council enhanced the Force and decided that in addition to the original mandate, it would, among other things, monitor the cessation of hostilities; accompany and support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy throughout the south of Lebanon; and extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons.

The two quotes, in paragraphs above, make UNIFIL’s goal crystal clear – it is an international force, whose mission it is to assist Lebanon. There is no mention of Israel in UNIFIL’s goal, besides “monitor the cessation of hostilities [between Israel and Lebanon]”. Thus: under the current mandate, the force should not – and cannot – act in favor of Israel (by arresting Hizb Allah terrorists, for example, as it would spark violence in Lebanon), but is allowed to act against it, as UN’s logic here says it would bring peace to Lebanon (sadly, UNIFIL never participated in operations to detain Hizb Allah’s spies within Israel).

Fortunately, after little research, we can see the goals set by Ban Ki Moon and his predecessors – the Force will never act in favor of Israel, as not to place its own people in danger from Lebanese anti-Israel militant groups, and in order to uphold its mandate. UN’s force cannot be trusted to bring calm to both sides – it will do nothing when Hizb Allah fires on Israeli north (it will also do nothing when Israel fires back). The Force is useless.

One of the best, by Cox & Forkum Sadly, the politicians of this world still believe the notion that calm means peace, while it might actually mean preparations for war. From the time of Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, to the 2006 war, Hizb Allah participated in many attacks against Israel, with the ensuing conflict branded by someone as the “2000-2006 Shebaa Farms conflict”, attempting to give Nasrallah’s organization pretext under which such attacks are a legal fight against colonialism, even though the United Nations officially declared Israel pulled out of Lebanon (while expressing certain reservations about several IDF operations outside of the border; Lebanon pronounced its rejection of UN’s acceptance of current borders). It seems nothing will help Israel, no matter how far back it goes into the Mediterranean sea.

With UNIFIL’s current mandate, Israel took a correct stance by mostly ignoring the group. Soldiers from Germany, Spain and France (as well as others, such as India) patrol the border with Lebanon, without actual power to change anything. They know they are cannon fodder for Hizb Allah terror cells, and do their best to hide in white armored personnel carriers, behind huge UN letters painted on all sides. International armed forces at their best.

There is no best solution to this situation – but there is a good one. If UNIFIL is unable to bring calm to the border, forces with wider mandate should – ones coming from NATO. Unlike UNIFIL, those forces should take positions on both sides of the border with the ability to monitor actions by two sides. While such move would not play well with the Israelis – who would immediately suspect of NATO forces being biased against Israel (and they might be right) – such force could fight Hassan Nasrallah’s group. Such force, should not attempt to disarm Hizb Allah; it should, however, be willing to encounter armed terrorists and fight to kill if they attempt to attack Israeli or their own civilians.

I am now realizing, though, that this is just a dream. Lebanon would not agree to NATO forces, as Lebanese will view it as a sellout to Americans (NATO, unlike UN, is not as biased against Israel), the Israelis would view it as an attack on their sovereignty and the world will not have the gut to assemble such a force, knowing it might lead to an unrest in the Middle East.

We can still dream, however. Maybe one day, leaders will emerge with just enough willpower to stand strong for their people – strong, but smart. Then, maybe, we could make a step forward – towards some kind of resolution. Until then… As Clint Black sang in a patriotic song: “We pray for peace, prepare for war”. It certainly will come.

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