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Israel wants Lebanon UN-forces to be tougher on Hizballah

UNIFIL will now step up patrols in its areas of operation [AFP]

Date of publication: 1 September, 2017

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Israel is welcoming the extension of a UN peacekeeping operation under tougher directives in southern Lebanon adding it must act to maintain stability there.
Israel is welcoming the extension of a UN peacekeeping operation under tougher directives in southern Lebanon adding it must act to maintain stability there.

The Foreign Ministry said on Friday UNIFIL must act in a “significant and decisive way” to stop Iranian-backed militants Hizballah from strengthening near its frontier.

The Security Council renewed the mission known as UNIFIL this week, with new orders for more patrols and detailed reports when peacekeepers run into roadblocks in Hizballah strongholds.

The US and Israel pushed for the changes, saying UNIFIL wasn’t doing enough to stop a Hizballah buildup.

Iran is suspected of sending weapons to Hizballah via Syria, where the militant group is fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley said UNIFIL’s commander was blind to the problem. The commander said he had no evidence it was happening.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the extension of the longtime peacekeeping operation in Lebanon — and reiterated support for the commander who had drawn US criticism.

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement on Thursday that the peacekeeping mission will keep enhancing its operations and Guterres has confidence in its leadership and staff.

Set up in 1978, UNIFIL was beefed up after the 2006 war between Israel and Hizballah, tasked with guaranteeing a ceasefire and Israeli withdrawal from a demilitarised zone on the Israeli-Lebanese border.

It now has 10,500 troops on the ground monitoring the ceasefire and helping the Lebanese government secure its borders.

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