un peacekeepers 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon has been given permission to use force in order to prevent a potential renewal of clashes, it was reported on Tuesday night.
In a statement released by UNIFIL's spokesman, Alexander Ivanko, the newly expanded force's rules of engagement allow UN troops to "respond as requiredâ€¦ should the situation present any risk of resumption of hostile activities."
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"UNIFIL commanders have sufficient authority to act forcefully when confronted with hostile activity of any kind," Ivanko said.
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman expressed great satisfaction with the move.
"It now becomes an effective force that can open fire, not merely give out parking tickets," said Gillerman, adding that the move was the "first step" towards disarming Hizbullah in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolution 1559.
Ivanko's statement also detailed different types of checkpoints set up both by the UN force and the Lebanese army.
"UNIFIL set up temporary checkpoints at key locations within its area of operations in southern Lebanon," said the statement.
"Permanent checkpoints that would be used to stop and search passing vehicles were being established by the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF)," it continued.
However, UNIFIL pinpointed the Lebanese army as the initial force to take action in such a situation. UNIFIL would only be required to intervene should Lebanon's force not fulfill this duty.
"In the case that specific information is available regarding movement of unauthorized weapons or equipment, the LAF will take required action. However, in situations where the LAF are not in a position to do so, UNIFIL will do everything necessary to fulfill its mandate in accordance with Security Council resolution 1701."
UNIFIL's mandate demonstrates the "right" for every member to defend himself. The mandate even permits soldiers to use force "beyond self-defense" to defend its operational area, and to defy any force that may try to prevent UNIFIL from doing their job.
"All UNIFIL personnel may exercise the inherent right of self-defense. In addition, the use of force beyond self-defense may be applied to ensure that UNIFIL's area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities; to resist attempts by forceful means to prevent UNIFIL from discharging its duties under the mandate of the Security Council; to protect UN personnel, facilities, installations and equipment and to ensure the security and freedom of movement of UN personnel and humanitarian workers."
A final scenario that would give justification for the force to open fire was "to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence."
The press release stressed that that the listed scenarios were only considered legitimate if they occurred in its (UNIFIL's) areas of deployment and within its capabilities."