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UNIFIL peacekeepers in Lebanon, whose mandate includes ensuring that Hizbullah not be permitted to rearm or expand it's presence south of the Litani River following the Second Lebanon War, has been engaged in an altogether different mission - facilitating the arrest of those suspected of spying for Israel, Channel 10 reported on Thursday.
According to the report, the UNIFIL activity was uncovered two days ago, during a video conference conducted between the Spanish defense minister and various Spanish military commanders stationed throughout the world, in which the commanders briefed the minister on their military operations. In a video aired by Channel 10, the Spanish UNIFIL commander was seen reporting that his troops had been engaged in "looking for Israeli spies."
"I would like to note the continuation of operations that were conducted this week, searching for an Israeli spy ring." he began. "A number of arrests were made."
"This shows that in the Shi'ite areas there is a continuous feeling of mistrust," the commander said, "because they think that everybody near their area is looking for information that could hurt them."
Following publication of the briefing, the Spanish defense minister told Spanish media that the whole situation was just a "misunderstanding."
Israel has yet to react to the UNIFIL commander's statement.
In the past few months, there have been repeated reports that dozens of alleged Israeli spies were arrested in Lebanon. It is not clear exactly how many people have been detained by Lebanese authorities and Hizbullah operatives.