'UNIFIL ignoring Hizbullah hostilities'

IDF blames peacekeepers for enabling planting of bombs near Avivim.

destroyed hummer 224 88 (photo credit: Channel 1)
destroyed hummer 224 88
(photo credit: Channel 1)
Defense officials slammed UNIFIL and the Lebanese government Monday night, claiming that their "slackness" was what enabled Hizbullah to plant five deadly explosive devices along the border between Israel and Lebanon. IDF officials said it was possible that the bombs were planted as part of a planned kidnapping attack similar to the July 12 abduction of reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser that sparked the war this past summer. Defense Minister Amir Peretz transmitted a harsh-worded message to UNIFIL command in Lebanon and urged the peacekeeping force to crack down on Hizbullah and prevent the guerrilla group from returning to the border and carrying out attacks against Israel. The Northern Command assessed that the bombs found on Monday, just north of Avivim and right along the Blue Line international border between Israel and Lebanon, were planted there only a few days ago by Hizbullah. Soldiers from Engineering Battalion 630 under the command of Lt.-Col. Eran Pauker discovered one of the explosive devices during a routine patrol along the border. The bombs - weighing between 15 to 20 kilograms each - were made of high-grade explosives and were disguised as boulders to blend in with the rocky terrain. "We are deployed well along the border and do all we can to prevent Hizbullah from even getting close to Israel," said Pauker. "Due to bad weather, however, it is possible for them to get close to the border without us or UNIFIL noticing." The soldiers did not cross the border, but instead detonated the bombs by shooting at them from a distance. IDF sources in the Northern Command described the incident as "an operational success," claiming that in the past it had sometimes taken the IDF months to discover Hizbullah bombs and bunkers along the border. According to Pauker, the IDF was operating under the assumption that Hizbullah had succeeded in planting additional bombs along the Israeli-Lebanese border. He estimated that the stormy weather and fog served as cover for Hizbullah terrorists when planting the five bombs along the border several days ago. While UNIFIL could do more to prevent Hizbullah from launching attacks against Israel, Pauker said that IDF units were well deployed along the border and were backed up by various electronic and technological devices that assisted in detecting border infiltrations. Two weeks ago, IDF troops from Pauker's battalion destroyed two Hizbullah bunkers that were discovered during searches of the area between the security fence and the Blue Line. The bunkers were used by Hizbullah during the war and were filled with supplies, food and tools.