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Israel, US Working to Enhance UNIFIL’s Mandate
A picture taken on January 29, 2015 from the Lebanese side along the Lebanese-Israeli border shows an helicopter of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) flying over the divided village of Ghajar. (Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP/Getty Images)

Israel, US Working to Enhance UNIFIL’s Mandate

In an effort to neuter Hizbullah, Israel and the United States are working together to augment the responsibilities of the United Nations peacekeeping force (UNIFIL) in Lebanon. The UN Security Council established UNIFIL in 1978 with a view to ensuring that Israeli troops withdrew from southern Lebanon, where at the time the Palestine Liberation Organization had set up shop and was orchestrating terrorist attacks against the Jewish state. Following a war in 1982 meant to uproot the PLO, Israeli soldiers remained in South Lebanon until 2000, when then-prime minister Ehud Barak ordered a full withdrawal. Thereafter, Hizbullah began militarizing the region, eventually leading to another major conflict in 2006. That war was effectively ended by UNSC Resolution 1701, which demanded that Hizbullah fully disarm. Since then, however, the Iranian proxy has transformed itself into a veritable army, acquiring some 130,000 rockets and missiles that are almost exclusively directed at Israel. Accordingly, Jerusalem has repeatedly slammed UNIFIL for failing to fulfill its duties by turning a blind eye to Hizbullah’s activities. Hence, the effort to enhance the UNIFIL’s mandate, which currently prevents peacekeepers from inspecting sites without the prior approval of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). Resolution 1701 tasked the LAF with patrolling southern Lebanon, although Israel argues that it has become subordinate to, if not part of, Hizbullah’s military machine. Israel claims that Hizbullah is storing much of its weaponry in villages and civilian infrastructure located close to the shared border.

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