The clashes that erupted Wednesday night between the IDF and Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) could have been prevented had the Northern Command waited for UNIFIL to arrive at the scene and serve as a buffer between the two forces, senior IDF officers claimed over the weekend. While the force crossed the fence it remained inside Israel and did not cross the Blue Line international border. During the operation, clashes erupted between the force and a nearby LAF position.
Lebanon won't submit complaint to UN
According to officials - from UNIFIL and the IDF - OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot gave the order to move ahead with the late-night operation even though peacekeepers had yet to arrive at the site.
On Thursday, IDF officers met with UNIFIL officials and tried to clarify the sequence of events. According to sources in the Northern Command, UNIFIL officers were upset that Eizenkot gave the order to move ahead with the operation without waiting for the peacekeeping force to arrive at the scene.
Other military sources estimated that Eizenkot wanted to move ahead with the operation even though UNIFIL was not there in order to demonstrate that the IDF was willing to operate in all of Israeli territory, even in the enclaves between the fence and the Blue Line that belong to Israel and were once filled with Hizbullah positions.
Sources close to Eizenkot dismissed the claim that he had ordered the force to move ahead with the operation even though UNIFIL was not there.
The sources claimed that while the IDF had notified UNIFIL early Wednesday about the planned operation, the peacekeeping force did not arrive at the scene until the next day.
"UNIFIL was not there," explained one Northern Command officer. "They came only the day after and during the incident they were stationed a distance away." According to the officer, the IDF's relationship with UNIFIL remained "excellent" even following last Wednesday's clash with the LAF. IDF officers are scheduled to meet with UNIFIL and LAF officers on Monday.