Graziano Q & A

By
June 22, 2007 19:12
2 minute read.

What is UNIFIL doing to prevent Hizbullah activity in southern Lebanon? It is like police activity. We have 400 patrols a day and 190 observation posts. That means we have control of the terrain and the area, and that means that no hostile activity or open carrying of weapons can happen, because we are there... There are 13,000 peacekeepers and four brigades of LAF. Open operations and open activities are impossible. What about the reports that Hizbullah is rebuilding itself in southern Lebanon? I can say that we are working hard to prevent any hostile activity and to keep the area south of the Litani and north of the Blue Line free of any weapons other than the ones that LAF and UNIFIL have. Accordingly we are in close coordination with the IDF, and so we take seriously any kind of indication or evidence that can be provided. We can say that in our area of operations, a [Hizbullah] rearmament has not yet taken place. In my area of operations, there is no open hostile activity. When we hear of smuggling - which I hear about from Israeli authorities - it is in reference to other parts, but not in my area of authority. If Israel has evidence, we are keen to take it and to check it. So at the moment, Israel is not showing you the intelligence? We are in close coordination, and if we receive an indication, we work to prevent hostile activities - but there is no evidence of any rearmament happening in southern Lebanon. There is no one going around southern Lebanon with weapons, and if someone were to go around with weapons - even a hunter - then they would be arrested. What about the Sunday Times report of a new bunker system being built by Hizbullah in southern Lebanon? We are going to find it if it really exists. I think it doesn't exist, since we are physically patrolling every corner of southern Lebanon, and if there were a bunker, we would have found it. Israel says, however, that you don't go into areas where Hizbullah trains, such as nature reserves, since you fear clashing with them? No. We spend a lot of time there. This is not true. We are applying 1701 to the maximum, and 1701 doesn't allow UNIFIL to physically search in a house independently. But we do it in support of LAF, and if there is an indication, we go there. We have been everywhere. It is also physically impossible [for Hizbullah to train in the open]. There are 400 patrols a day, and the area is 1,100 square km. What do you think about Israeli assessments of another war with Hizbullah? I don't know, but when I meet with my IDF counterparts, they tell us that UNIFIL is doing a good job. Maybe they think we could have a different mandate, but that is up to the UN, and I think that it will not happen. The south is under my responsibility, and I am accountable for it. So you don't see the possibility of war? In this situation, not at all.


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