United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Arabic: قوة الأمم المتحدة المؤقتة في لبنان, Hebrew: כוח האו"ם הזמני בלבנון), or UNIFIL (Arabic: يونيفيل, Hebrew: יוניפי״ל), is a peacekeeping mission established on 19 March 1978 by United Nations Security Council Resolutions 425 and 426, to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon which Israel had invaded five days prior, restore international peace and security, and help the government of Lebanon restore its effective authority in the area. The 1978 South Lebanon conflict came in the context of Palestinian insurgency in South Lebanon and the Lebanese Civil War
|Formation||19 March 1978|
|Head of Mission |
Maj. Gen. Stefano Del Col
|United Nations Security Council|
The mandate had to be adjusted twice, due to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. Following the 2006 Lebanon War, the United Nations Security Council enhanced UNIFIL 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 first UNIFIL troops deployed in the area on 23 March 1978 were reassigned from other UN peacekeeping operations in the area (United Nations Emergency Force, the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, and the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force Zone). During the occupation, UNIFIL's function was mainly to provide humanitarian aid.
UNIFIL's mandate is renewed by the United Nations Security Council annually. The latest mandate expired on 31 August 2019. Its funding is approved on an annual basis by the General Assembly. It has a budget of $474 million for the period from July 2018 to June 2019.
- 1 Mandate
- 2 History
- 2.1 Lebanese Civil War (until 1990)
- 2.2 South Lebanon conflict (until 2000)
- 2.3 Conflict in 2006
- 2.4 From August 2006
- 2.5 Post-2006 deployment
- 2.6 Maritime Task Force
- 2.7 Personnel
- 3 Concerns over presence and neutrality
- 4 Contributing countries
- 5 Controversy
- 6 Impact
- 7 Criticism
- 8 UNIFIL confrontations
- 9 UNIFIL casualties
- 10 Quotes
- 11 Leadership
- 12 See also
- 13 Notes
- 14 Further reading
- 15 Sources
- 16 External links
UNIFIL is tasked with achieving the following objectives:
- Confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon
- Restore international peace and security
- Assist the Government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective authority in the area
Mandating resolutions by the United Nations:
Lebanese Civil War (until 1990)Edit
Prior to the 1982 Lebanon War, on 2 January 1982 two Ghanaian soldiers guarding a UNIFIL position were attacked by unidentified persons and one of the soldiers was shot and subsequently died. During the 1982 Lebanon War, UN positions were overrun, primarily by the SLA forces under Saad Haddad. This was the main Lebanese paramilitary force supported by the IDF in Southern Lebanon.
South Lebanon conflict (until 2000)Edit
Beginning in 1985, Israel scaled back its permanent positions in Lebanon, remaining only in support of the South Lebanon Army in Southern Lebanon which engaged the newly established Iranian proxy spinoff of the Amal movement - the Arab Shia Hezbollah.
This process was punctuated by brief invasions and bombings, as in Operation Accountability in 1993 and Operation Grapes of Wrath in 1996. In 1999, Israel undertook a withdrawal, which concluded in 2000 and enabled UNIFIL to resume its military tasks along the "Blue Line" (UN identified line of withdrawal for IDF) and the adjacent areas, where UNIFIL sought to maintain the ceasefire through patrols, observation from fixed positions, and close contact between LAF and IDF, as well as providing humanitarian assistance to the local population. This type of activity was difficult to accomplish when IDF occupied the UNIFIL mandate area.[clarification needed]
Conflict in 2006Edit
According to UNIFIL press releases, there have been dozens of such incidents of UN posts coming under fire during the 2006 Lebanon War. In his 21 July 2006 report about the UNIFIL activities 21 January-18 July 2006, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan stated that "Some Hezbollah positions remained in close proximity to United Nations positions, especially in the Hula area, posing a significant security risk to United Nations personnel and equipment."
- Tyre, Lebanon.
- On 23 July, Hezbollah fire wounded an Italian observer.
- On 25 July, Hezbollah opened small arms fire at a UNIFIL convoy, forcing it to retreat.
- On 25 July, four soldiers from the Ghanaian battalion were lightly injured after an Israeli tank shell hit a UNIFIL position during fighting in Southern Lebanon on 24 July 2006.
- Shrapnel from tank shells fired by the IDF seriously wounded an Indian soldier on 16 July 2006.
- On 25 July 2006 four UNTSO observers from Austria, Canada, China and Finland were killed by Israeli strikes on an OGL (Observer Group Lebanon) patrol base near Khiam in southern Lebanon. According to the UN, the Israelis stated they were responding to "Hezbollah fire from that vicinity" and the four had taken shelter in a bunker under the post. The area around the site was hit by a precision guided bomb from an Israeli jet and shelled a total of 14 times by Israeli artillery throughout the day despite warning calls made by UN personnel to the IDF. However, General Alain Pellegrini, then commander of UNIFIL, claims that he attempted to call Israeli officials "five or six times", but never got past their secretaries. Later, Israeli artillery shelling resumed as a rescue team tried to clear the rubble.
- On 29 July, two Indian soldiers were wounded when their post was damaged during an Israeli airstrike in Southern Lebanon.
- On 6 August, a Hezbollah rocket hit the headquarters of the Chinese UNIFIL contingent, wounding three Chinese soldiers.
- On 12 August, a Ghanaian soldier was wounded when Israeli artillery shelled the area near the village of Haris.
From August 2006Edit
Visit by Secretary GeneralEdit
In order to stress the importance of implementing Security Council resolution 1701, UN Secretary-General Annan himself paid a visit to UNIFIL on the ground.
Following the cease-fire, UNIFIL received vast reinforcements, up to 15,000 men, and heavy equipment. France is committed to increase her complement from 400 to 2,000 men and send Leclerc heavy tanks and AMX 30 AuF1 self-propelled artillery, in addition to the forces deployed in Opération Baliste. Italy will send 3,000 troops. Qatar will send between 200 and 300 troops.
A naval component of UNIFIL was set up to assist the Lebanese Navy preventing arms proliferation to Hezbollah. This force is under the command of a German admiral with the majority of vessels being provided by the German Navy.
The Indonesian contingent received 12 VAB (Véhicule de l'Avant Blindé) on 17 February 2007, as the part of the second wave of shipments from the agreement between the French and Indonesian governments. Among the equipment sent with the second wave of VABs were 10 tool boxes (pioneering equipment), 10 armored vehicle radio communications units, HMG (Heavy Machine Gun) shooter shields, and 40 water jerrycans.
On 16 March 2009, KRI Diponegoro, a Sigma class corvette joined UNIFIL Naval Task Force.
On 13 April 2010, the Indonesian Contingent received 13 Pindad Anoa APCs for UNIFIL service.
The Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Ambassador Dan Gillerman, met with UNIFIL commander, Maj.-Gen. Claudio Graziano, on 15 August 2008, after Israel was accused of unilaterally violating United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 by the almost daily overflights of Lebanese airspace, the continued occupation of the village of Ghajar, and Israel's refusal to submit maps of areas on which it dropped cluster munitions during the 2006 Lebanese war.
Following the war, British military historian John Keegan predicted that Israel would in the future invade Lebanon and continue attacking until Hezbollah's system of tunnels and bunkers was completely destroyed, as Israel would not tolerate a "zone of invulnerability" occupied by a sworn enemy, or a double threat posed by Hezbollah and Hamas rockets, and that Israel might first attack the Gaza Strip. Keegan noted that any IDF entry into Southern Lebanon would risk provoking a clash with UNIFIL, but that it is unlikely to deter Israel, as it tends to behave with "extreme ruthlessness" when national survival is at stake.
In 2010, a series of standoffs and clashes erupted between UNIFIL troops and Lebanese villagers in the border region. Villagers accused French peacekeepers of provocative and intrusive patrols, and of taking pictures of people inside their homes. People of Aitaroun town, Marjayoun, accused the French regiments of driving their heavy vehicles through their two-month-old tobacco fields, which support many families. UNIFIL was also accused of having stepped up its patrols and of failing to coordinate with the Lebanese Army. In July 2010, the most serious incident occurred when the French regiments decided to carry out exercises unilaterally, without Lebanese units or other regiments. When they went into narrow alleys of Lebanese villages some residents first tried to redirect them out of their private areas. The French fired against the civilians, arrested a youth driving a motorcycle, and destroyed the vehicle. When other civilians saw that, they surrounded and attacked the UNIFIL French troops without any weapons. The vehicles' windows were smashed by stones from dozens of civilians of all ages, and the French commander was wounded. The French troops were forcibly disarmed by the villagers, and weapons were then handed over to the Lebanese Army. The French unit could not explain why they behaved unilaterally. Their ambassador to the UN said the civilian attack "was not spontaneous". Many troops, including the Finnish, Irish, Qataris and Indonesians pulled out of UNIFIL in 2007–2008. One reason quoted as some were there for over 30 years (the Irish and Finnish) because of fear of change of the rules of engagement by the NATO forces joining after August 2006 and because of German and French high level statements expressing unlimited support to the Israeli side. At the request of the United Nations, 7,000 additional Lebanese soldiers were deployed to South Lebanon as approved by the Lebanese Cabinet.
UNIFIL force in 2010 Israel–Lebanon border clashEdit
The 2010 Israel–Lebanon border clash occurred on 3 August 2010. It was the deadliest incident along the border since the devastating 2006 Lebanon War. The UN force stationed in southern Lebanon urged "maximum restraint" following the clashes along the so-called Blue Line, a UN-drawn border separating Lebanon from Israel. UNIFIL peacekeepers were in the area where the clashes took place. United Nations peacekeepers tried to hold off the routine Israeli tree-pruning that led to a deadly border clash with Lebanese soldiers. An Indonesian UN battalion was on the scene, and they did their best to try to prevent it, but they were unable to.
Indonesian peacekeepers tried to no avail to calm the situation before the clashes erupted. However, the fighting was increasingly intensified, so this small contingent of UNIFIL forces was ordered to retreat or find cover then report back to the base. The Indonesian contingent, under intense gunfire and shelling between the two opposing forces, retreated and returned to their base, but two soldiers accidentally separated from the main group and got trapped in the situation. The stunned and exhausted soldiers were helped by some locals.
UN peacekeepers did not escape the confrontation unscathed. Local TV reported that in some cases, villagers attempted to block UNIFIL vehicles from fleeing the combat zone, demanding that they return and fight. However, current and former UNIFIL officials said that at that point in the conflict, it was out of peacekeepers' hands. One former UNIFIL official explained that he has been in these situations before, and when the opposing sides are determined to shoot each other, there's nothing UNIFIL force can do. A former UNIFIL commander stated, concerning UNIFIL's action to preserve neutrality for both sides, that if UNIFIL forces intervene to protect IDF, for instance, UNIFIL will be accused by Hezbollah or the people of protecting the Israelis, and collaborating with the enemy. On the other side, if UNIFIL forces do the same with the Lebanese, Israel will accuse UNIFIL of collaborating with Hezbollah.
UNIFIL is[when?] deployed in Southern Lebanon (south of the Litani River) and primarily along the United Nations-drawn Blue Line, which is the border between Israel and Lebanon. The force's activities have centered around monitoring military activity between Hezbollah and the Israeli Defense Forces with the aim of reducing tensions and allaying tension along the border. UNIFIL has also played an important role in clearing landmines, assisting displaced persons and providing humanitarian assistance to civilians in the underdeveloped region of Southern Lebanon. Under UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which passed as a result of the 2006 Lebanon War, its mandate and rules of engagement changed. The mandate changed to allow up to 15,000 personnel in order to assist the Lebanese Armed Forces in deploying in Southern Lebanon to implement the Lebanese government's sovereignty. The rules of engagement changed to allow the troops to open fire in certain cases: mostly in cases of self-defense but also in order to protect civilians, UN personnel and facilities. The new resolution states that UNIFIL can "take all the necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces, and as it deems with its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind." On 27 August 2006, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that UNIFIL would not intercept arms shipments from Syria, unless requested to do so by Lebanon.
Maritime Task ForceEdit
The Maritime Task Force (MTF) is the naval component of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). As of February 2012, the MTF is under the command of Rear Admiral Wagner Lopes de Moraes Zamith of Brazil. The Brazilian frigate Constituição is the flagship of the fleet comprising vessels from Brazil, Bangladesh, Germany, Greece, Indonesia and Turkey. After the 2006 Lebanon War, the UNIFIL Maritime Task Force (MTF) was established to assist the Lebanese Naval Forces in preventing the smuggling of illegal shipments in general and armament shipments in particular. With its establishment in October 2006, the force was led by the German Navy which was also the major contributor to the force. The Germans lead the MTF up until 29 February 2008 when they passed control over to EUROMARFOR – a force made up of ships from Portugal, Spain, Italy and France (of which the latter three countries sent vessels to the force in Lebanon).
As of 19 June 2018[update], UNIFIL employs 10,480 military personnel, including 500 women, from 41 countries. It is supported by 239 international civilian staff, including 78 women, and 583 national civilian staff, including 153 women.:13 It is led by Major General Michael Beary.
The UNIFIL military personnel also includes a contingent from Kazakhstan. The Kazakh peacekeeping forces joined the mission for the first time ever in late 2018. 120 soldiers from Kazakhstan were deployed as part of the Indian battalion in Lebanon on 31 October 2018.
Concerns over presence and neutralityEdit
Israel has criticized the force for, amongst other things, maintaining a dialogue with Hezbollah, which it views as a terrorist organization, for treating Israeli and Hezbollah violations of security council resolution 1701 equally, while Israel views its violations of Lebanese airspace as less severe than Hezbollah's violations including crossings of the blue line and rocket launchings, namely because Israel and its primary allies in the west consider Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization and not a legitimate political party, and, as a result of this, declare all armed Hezbollah actions to be terroristic. UNIFIL was accused of complicity in the fatal abduction of IDF soldiers in October 2000, and Israel further blamed it for obstructing its investigation by denying the existence of and then once the existence was leaked, refusing to supply videos of the attack for several months.
Prior to the July 2006 Lebanon War, Israel had been lobbying for UNIFIL to either take a more active role vis-a-vis Hezbollah (for example, preventing Hezbollah from stationing near UNIFIL posts to fire at the IDF and into northern Israel) or to step out of the region (thereby voiding the Lebanese government's excuse for not deploying Lebanese Armed Forces along the border).
UNIFIL also came under criticism during the 2006 Lebanon War for broadcasting detailed reports of Israeli troop movements, numbers, and positions on their website which "could have exposed Israeli soldiers to grave danger", while making no such reports about Hezbollah. UNIFIL's actions could have been motivated by the fact that Israel was, as a response to Hezbollah rocket fire (which Hezbollah alleges to have been a reaction to Israeli "border violations") and to the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers, conducting a ground invasion of Lebanon at that time. Israel was concerned when it was reported that Indonesia was being considered to replace Italy as commander of UNIFIL's naval force. As Indonesia does not recognize Israel, and the two countries have no diplomatic or military relations, Israel expressed concern that cooperation with the IDF, especially the Israeli Navy, could deteriorate.
A 2010 book published by Norwegian journalist Odd Karsten Tveit revealed that the Norwegian Army was complicit in the escape of two Lebanese men who were arrested by the Israeli Army and being held in Khiam prison. According to the book, in 1992, two detained Lebanese men escaped from Khiam prison. Fearing that they would face torture or execution if caught by the Israel Defense Forces or South Lebanon Army, the soldiers dressed the detainees in UN uniforms, and placed them in a UNIFIL convoy which left Southern Lebanon through Israeli roadblocks. Shortly afterward, Israeli Army commander Moshe Tamir visited the Norwegian battalion's camp, and accused Norwegian commander Hagrup Haukland of "sheltering terrorists". Immediately after the confrontation, the Lebanese men were smuggled onto a bus used by Norwegian peacekeepers on leave, which took them to Beirut.
Hezbollah supporters have accused UNIFIL of siding with Israel, especially since the passage of Resolution 1701 which they view as one-sided. On 16 October 2006, Lebanon's top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah declared that the UN force had "come to protect Israel, not Lebanon", echoing the sentiment of the leader of Hezbollah - Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, who previously said "They are ashamed of us, brothers and sisters. They are ashamed of saying they came to defend us, but they talk about defending Israel."
|Bangladesh||116||The Bangladesh Navy has deployed one Castle-class corvette BNS Bijoy.|
|Belarus||5||The Belarus Contingent consist of one surgical team and staff officer in UNIFIL|
|Belgium||105||de-miners, medical and reconstruction teams 1 Karel Doorman class frigate|
|Brazil||223||Marine Task Force (MTF) commander, Brazilian Navy 1 frigate "Liberal"|
|China||419||200 engineers currently in Lebanon clearing mines and unexploded ordnance, medical team, peacekeeping troops|
|Finland||197||Part of the French Force Commander Reserve, FCR|
|France||675||The French Army has 13 Leclerc heavy tanks in Lebanon  in charge of UNIFIL ground forces until February 2007. France also continuously deploys part of their peace keeping operations rotations of French Paratroopers. |
In addition, French Navy ships with 1,700 sailors are deployed off Lebanon in Opération Baliste, and assisting in UNIFIL operations.
|Germany||113||naval ships to secure the Lebanese coast and prevent arms smuggling|
|Greece||142||Elli-class frigate, the HS Kanaris, to patrol against arms smugglers|
|India||782||01 x Standard Infantry Battalion of the Indian Army (Regulars), along with support components from the Corps of Engineers (Sappers), Corps of Signals and other logistic Arms and Services|
|Indonesia||1309||850 men in mechanized infantry battalion, 75 men in military police unit, 200 men in force protection company, 11 men UNIFIL staff, 111 men aboard KRI Diponegoro (Sigma class corvette of the Indonesian Navy)|
|Ireland||465||The Irish Army suffered the most casualties (47 fatalities) in UNIFIL followed by Fiji and France since 1978; contributing over 30,000 soldier peacekeepers over a period of 23 years.|
|Italy||1068||ground troops; assumed charge of UNIFIL ground forces in February 2007|
|Malaysia||814||Administrative(200) and patrol/quick reaction team (160; including commandos and special forces). Excluding the Brunei unit.|
|Qatar||2||the only Arab nation to contribute to UNIFIL, deployed 205 soldiers to Lebanon in 2007. They mostly provided humanitarian assistance, and three logistics officers worked at UNIFIL headquarters|
|Serbia||177||8 staff officers, 5 national support element and 164 infantry|
|South Korea||332||They are keeping the peace in the Lebanon area by Policing, Medical Assistance and Cultural Exchange|
|Spain||630||de-mining and beach cleaning, mechanized infantry battalion (1 infantry platoon from El Salvador), cavalry squadron, combat engineers, helicopter unit|
|Sri Lanka||149||Mechanized infantry company with combat support personal and vehicles|
|Bulgaria||160||1 Wielingen Class Frigate|||
|Denmark||204||2 patrol boats as force protection for German contingent and 144 logistic soldiers, and 10 firefighters from the Danish Emergency Management Agency|||
|Fiji||306||2 Infantry Battalions led by Sitiveni Rabuka|||
|Netherlands||150||1 Karel Doorman class frigate|||
|Norway||900||Infantry battalion NORBATT, engineering unit Normaintcoy, rotary wing force Norair, medical unit Normedcoy, and naval ships to secure the Lebanese coast and prevent arms smuggling|||
|Sweden||40||1 Göteborg class corvette|||
Alain Pellegrini alleged that UN reports on Lebanon were reaching Israeli intelligence.
UNIFIL was heavily criticized after two UNIFIL soldiers from Indonesia were filmed fleeing the battleground in a taxi.
The Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) were created when the United Nations invited the newly independent Fiji to send troops to serve in UNIFIL. The experience gained in Lebanon has enabled the RFMF to stage 4 coups d'état (1987, 1999–2000, 2006, and 2009) and to govern Fiji in a military dictatorship for over two decades.
A former Israeli diplomat, Itamar Rabinovich, criticised the efficacy of the force saying "UNIFIL, I'm afraid, is a joke. They've been there for 26 years and since then, there have been so many skirmishes [along the border]." Prime Minister Ehud Olmert also said "We didn't like very much UNIFIL which was very useless and very helpless. Look what happened. Did you hear of any particular efforts of the United Nations UNIFIL force in the south of Lebanon to prevent the attacks against Israel in the first place. So they were not useful and that is why we were unhappy with them."
Both Israel and Hezbollah have accused UNIFIL of bias. Israel again accused them of failing to prevent, and even collaborating with, Hezbollah in its replenishment of military power. Hezbollah, in turn, said "certain contingents" of UNIFIL are spying for, if not assisting, Israel.
South Lebanese receptionEdit
In the summer of 2010, relations soured between the French contingent and residents in several villages that led to injuries on both sides, after a French regiment began an exercise in order to identify Hezbollah members that included searching homes, taking photographs, using sniffer dogs, and questioning residents. Residents accused them of violating private property, treating them with contempt, and of not coordinating with the Lebanese army. The residents made clear that their conflict was only with the French contingent, and that relations with other contingents were good. Following discussions between UNIFIL commanders, ambassadors of countries with soldiers in UNIFIL, and the commander of the Lebanese army, an agreement was reached under which sniffer dogs would no longer be used, UNIFIL soldiers would refrain from entering Lebanese homes and yards, and only Lebanese army soldiers would carry out searches of homes.
Generally, however, relations between UNIFIL and local residents have been good. UNIFIL forces have offered various services to the locals, and have introduced elements of their own culture. India's UNIFIL contingent has carried out small-scale development projects, operates medical and dental clinics, veterinary care for local animals, and also runs entertainment camps for children and yoga classes. The Indonesian UNIFIL contingent (INDOBATT) also gained good reputation among the South Lebanese people, and this is achieved through the Civil Military Coordination (CIMIC) program implemented by the contingent. This program includes many society-based activities, such as conducting computer course for local residents, medical assistance and also technical assistance in rebuilding social facilities. The French contingent has taught poetry courses to local Francophone residents as well as French vocabulary and grammar to primary school students in 15 schools, the Italian contingent has given cooking lessons, the South Korean contingent has taught Taekwondo, and the Chinese contingent has taught Tai chi.
On 22 September 2006, French Air Force jets were seen over the skies of Beirut during Hassan Nasrallah's victory speech, possibly trying to protect him from an Israeli assassination attempt. Nasrallah told the crowd that he had no fear in addressing the masses directly, rather than through armored glass. On 28 September, Five Israeli Merkava tanks, an armored bulldozer, and a number of military vehicles entered Lebanon and attempted to search the Hezbollah-controlled village of Marwahin. They were confronted by four French Army Leclerc tanks, which blocked their advance. The confrontation lasted for half an hour. According to American and German correspondents, the French retreated, while the French commander claimed that the Israelis had turned back. French commander of UNIFIL Alain Pellegrini stated that France would not intervene to disarm Hezbollah.
Following the war, Hezbollah was widely reported to be rearming with the help of Iran and Syria, which were reportedly smuggling weaponry and munitions into Lebanon to replenish Hezbollah's depleted stocks. Israel accused UNIFIL of failing to prevent Hezbollah's rearmament and thus failing to implement Resolution 1701. The Israeli Air Force began flying reconnaissance sorties over Lebanon to monitor Hezbollah's rearmament, with Israel announcing they would continue until Resolution 1701 was fully implemented. This led to repeated confrontations with UNIFIL.
On 3 October 2006, an Israeli fighter jet penetrated the 2-nautical-mile (3.7 km) defense perimeter of the French Navy frigate Courbet without answering radio calls, triggering a diplomatic incident. Israel apologized after official protests from the French government.
On 24 October, six Israeli Air Force F-16 jets flew over the German Navy intelligence ship Alster, patrolling off Israel's coast just south of the Lebanese border. The German Defense Ministry said that the planes had given off infrared decoys and one of the aircraft had fired two shots into the air, which had not been specifically aimed. The Israeli military said that a German helicopter took off from the vessel without having coordinated this with Israel, and denied vehemently having fired any shots at the vessel and said "as of now" it also had no knowledge of the jets launching flares over it. Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz telephoned his German counterpart Franz Josef Jung to clarify that "Israel has no intention to carry out any aggressive actions" against the German peacekeeping forces in Lebanon, who are there as part of UNIFIL to enforce an arms embargo against Hezbollah. Germany confirmed the consultations, and that both sides were interested in maintaining good cooperation. The Alster's crew had recorded several overflights by Israeli jets in the previous weeks, but claimed that the Israeli aircraft had always stayed at high altitude. The week before the incident, Israeli jets had confronted a German naval helicopter, but turned back after the Germans identified themselves.
Shortly after the war, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, reporting to the Security Council, stated that there were no serious incidents or confrontations, but that peacekeepers reported Israeli flyovers "almost on a daily basis". UNIFIL commander Alain Pellegrini claimed that Israeli flyovers violated the cease-fire and Lebanese sovereignty, and warned that if the diplomatic efforts to stop the overflights failed, force might be used to stop them. Israeli military sources reported that Israel would bomb UNIFIL positions if Israeli aircraft were attacked. On 23 October, sources in the Israeli defense establishment said that intelligence gathered by the sorties had revealed that Hezbollah was rebuilding its military infrastructure. Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz told the cabinet that surveillance flights over Lebanon would continue in light of the fact that arms smuggling between Syria and Lebanon continued.
On 31 October 2006, eight Israeli F-15s flew over many areas of Lebanon, including Beirut. The jets also flew over a French position in Lebanon. According to the French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, the planes came in at what was interpreted as an attack formation, and the peacekeepers were "two seconds away" from firing at the jets with an anti-aircraft missile.
On 6 September, during a European Union meeting in Brussels, the French Defense Minister announced that the Israeli Air Force had stopped mock air attacks over UNIFIL positions. On 17 November, two Israeli F-15s overflew UN positions at low altitude and high speed while two reconnaissance planes circled the headquarters of the French battalion. French peacekeepers responded by readying their anti-aircraft batteries, and warned that Israeli warplanes conducting mock attacks could be fired on.
The IAF continued its reconnaissance flights over Lebanon, and despite strong protests, UNIFIL peacekeeping forces did not follow through on their threats to fire at Israeli aircraft. The Lebanese government reported hundreds of overflights by Israeli aircraft, and also claimed that Israeli troops had illegally crossed the border dozens of times, including into the disputed Shebaa farms area.
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On 24 June 2007, six UNIFIL soldiers (three Colombians and three Spanish) were killed after their vehicle was hit by an explosive device; two others (both Spanish) were injured in the incident. No group has yet admitted responsibility. The Israeli military believed the attack to be the work of al-Qaeda/Global Jihad members.
As of 31 July 2019, UNIFIL has had 314 fatalities since 1978. They include the following nationalities:
|29 March 1978:||A Swedish soldier, Karl-Oscar Johansson was killed and another, Marc Lindoberg, was injured when their vehicle hit a landmine in the vicinity of the Khardala Bridge. Johansson was UNIFIL's first fatality.|
|25 June 1981:||Two Fijian soldiers were killed and one wounded by PLO gunmen. They had been among the nine Fijian soldiers captured by the PLO after having stopped a Palestinian at a roadblock, and were shot in the back while trying to escape.|
|22 August 1986:||An Irish soldier was killed and two others wounded by a roadside bomb. Two heavily armed men with bomb-making equipment were subsequently caught by a UNIFIL patrol and handed over to Lebanese police.|
|28 September 1986:||Three French soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb while jogging. UN officials attributed the attack to Shiite fundamentalists, particularly Hezbollah.|
|11 January 1987:||An Irish soldier, Corporal Dermot McLoughlin, was killed when an Israeli tank shelled an Irish UNIFIL position. The Israelis had opened fire after spotting a large squad of guerrillas near the position. Two senior Israeli officers were later disciplined over the incident.|
|20 November 1986:||Three Fijian soldiers and three Lebanese were killed in a suicide car bombing, and three UNIFIL soldiers, two Lebanese civilians, and an SLA soldier were injured. The car, with two occupants inside, had run through a UNIFIL roadblock, apparently aiming for the Israeli border, but after being fired at as it approached an SLA roadblock, it returned to the UNIFIL roadblock, and exploded as Fijian and SLA soldiers approached.|
|19 February 1990:||Two Nepali soldiers were killed and six injured by SLA mortar fire that hit their compound. The SLA and IDF claimed that the fire had come in response to Hezbollah RPG and mortar fire.|
|3 September 1991:||A Swedish soldier, Kenneth Fransson was killed when he was caught in the middle of a shootout between Palestinians and SLA soldiers in Naqoura.|
|15 September 1991:||A Swedish soldier was killed and five Swedish and French soldiers were wounded when Palestinian gunmen intending to carry out an attack on the Israeli city of Nahariya en route to their target by boat mistakenly landed in Naqoura and confronted UNIFIL troops. One of the gunmen was also killed and another injured. In a separate incident, two gunmen ambushed a Nepali UNIFIL patrol near Yatar, just north of the security zone, killing one soldier and wounding another. One of the gunmen was killed by return fire while the other escaped.|
|23 February 1993:||A Nepali soldier was killed and another seriously wounded after being caught in an exchange of fire between Hezbollah and the SLA in the vicinity of their post. The UN claimed that they had been killed by SLA shelling, while a senior IDF officer said it was uncertain who was at fault.|
|27 December 1993:||A Norwegian soldier, Bjoern Hagen Skaar, was killed and another, Oevind Berg, was wounded when an Israeli tank patrol engaged in a nighttime search for guerrillas mistook a Norwegian UNIFIL unit for enemy fighters and fired three tank shells at them. The Israeli unit subsequently assisted the Norwegian unit and called in a helicopter to airlift the injured soldier to an Israeli hospital.|
|20 March 1995:||A Nepali soldier was killed and three others wounded by Israeli shelling near Yatar.|
|31 May 1999:||An Irish soldier, Pte. William Kedian was killed in an exchange of fire between Hezbollah and the SLA.|
|9 January 2005:||A French officer was killed and a Swedish officer and a Lebanese civilian were wounded by Israeli shelling that was in retaliation to a Hezbollah attack that killed an Israeli soldier. A Hezbollah fighter was also killed.|
|25 July 2006:||Four UN observers, one each from Canada, Finland, Austria, and China, were killed in an Israeli airstrike that hit their position in Khiam.|
|25 September 2006:||A French engineer officer was killed in a road accident near the town of Sofar.|
|9 March 2007:||Three Belgian soldiers were killed in an armoured vehicle accident.|
|24 June 2007:||Three Colombian and three Spanish soldiers were killed in a bomb blast between Marjayoun and Khiam.|
|25 July 2007:||A French soldier was killed near the village of Shama while clearing unexploded munitions.|
|11 October 2007:||A British man, Craig Appleby (36) was killed while clearing munitions near Bint Jbeil.|
|12 November 2007:||Two French soldiers were wounded as a result of the accidental discharge of a weapon. One of the wounded men subsequently died while being evacuated to Hospital.|
|15 June 2008:||A Spanish soldier was killed and two injured in a road accident.|
|3 September 2008:||A Belgian soldier was killed near the village of Aitaroun while clearing munitions left over from the 2006 conflict.|
|27 May 2011:||Six Italian soldiers were wounded when their VM-90 military truck was destroyed by a roadside bomb near Sidon.|
Compensation for tortious injuryEdit
A verdict of Trondheim District Court in 2006 resulted in Norway's government being ordered to pay compensation for tortious injury that Knut Braa acquired as a UNIFIL soldier — Norwegian kroner 1 215 374.
- "UNIFIL came here in 1978. We were, because at that time there was no Hezbollah here, accused of being sympathetic to Palestinians. A peacekeeping force does not come here with pre-set enemies. There is no enemy inaudible in a peacekeeping force. UNIFIL is a peacekeeping force. It's not an Israeli combat force or an anti-terror force, as they would like it to be. As long as we don't serve their direct interests, they are going to denigrate it as much as they can." Timur Goksel, former spokesman of UNIFIL, 26 July 2006
Commanders of the forceEdit
|Start Date||End Date||Name||Country|
|March 1978||February 1981||Emmanuel A. Erskine||Ghana|
|February 1981||May 1986||William O'Callaghan||Ireland|
|June 1986||June 1988||Gustav Hägglund||Finland|
|July 1988||February 1993||Lars-Eric Wahlgren||Sweden|
|February 1993||February 1995||Trond Furuhovde||Norway|
|April 1995||1 October 1997||Stanislaw Franciszek Wozniak||Poland|
|February 1997||September 1999||Jioje Konousi Koronte||Fiji|
|30 September 1999||1 December 1999||James Sreenan||Ireland|
|16 November 1999||15 May 2001||Seth Kofi Obeng||Ghana|
|15 May 2001||17 August 2001||Ganesan Athmanathan||India|
|17 August 2001||17 February 2004||Lalit Mohan Tewari||India|
|17 February 2004||2 February 2007||Alain Pellegrini||France|
|2 February 2007||28 January 2010||Claudio Graziano||Italy|
|28 January 2010||28 January 2012||Alberto Asarta Cuevas||Spain|
|28 January 2012||24 July 2014||Paolo Serra||Italy|
|24 July 2014||24 July 2016||Luciano Portolano||Italy|
|24 July 2016||7 August 2018||Michael Beary||Ireland|
|7 August 2018||Present||Stefano Del Col||Italy|
Deputy Commanders of the ForceEdit
|Start Date||End Date||Name||Country|
|4 May 2008||2 January 2009||Major General Apurba Bardalai||India|
Commanders of the Maritime Task ForceEdit
|Start Date||End Date||Name||Country|
|September 2006||16 October 2006||Giuseppe De Giorgi||Italy|
|16 October 2006||March 2007||Andreas Krause||Germany|
|March 2007||September 2007||Karl-Wilhelm Bollow||Germany|
|September 2007||February 2008||Christian Luther||Germany|
|February 2008||August 2008||Ruggiero di Biase||Italy|
|September 2008||February 2009||Jean-Louis Kerignard||France|
|March 2009||May 2009||Jean-Thierry Pynoo||Belgium|
|August 2009||August 2009||Ruggiero Di Biase||Italy|
|September 2009||November 2009||Jürgen Mannhardt||Germany|
|December 2009||February 2011||Paolo Sandalli||Italy|
|February 2011||February 2012||Luiz Henrique Caroli||Brazil|
|February 2012||February 2013||Wagner Lopes de Moraes Zamith||Brazil|
|February 2013||February 2014||Joese de Andrade Bandeira Leandro||Brazil|
|February 2014||February 2015||Walter Eduardo Bombarda||Brazil|
|February 2015||February 2016||Flavio Macedo Brasil||Brazil|
|February 2016||Present||Claudio Henrique Mello de Almeida||Brazil|
Personal representatives of the Secretary-General for Southern LebanonEdit
|Start Date||End Date||Name||Country|
|March 1978||?||Jean Cuq||France|
|2000||15 January 2001||Rolf Göran Knutsson||Sweden|
|15 January 2001||April 2005||Staffan de Mistura||Italy|
|April 2005||2007||Geir Pedersen||Norway|
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