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UNIFIL's potential
Yaakov Katz
06/22/2007
'We need to want them to fulfill its mandate in the best way possible. The more we cooperate with them, the more we allow them to better do their job' - Professor Efrat Elron Following the war, the UN Security Council passed 1701, which called for an end to the fighting in southern Lebanon and for the creation of a new and improved UNIFIL. Until the war, the UNIFIL force in the region consisted of just 2,000 soldiers from countries that included Ghana and India. Today, UNIFIL has over 13,000 troops, mostly from European countries such as Italy, Germany, France, Spain and even Qatar. In total, 30 countries support UNIFIL, which also has a naval force responsible for preventing arms smuggling to Hizbullah in the Mediterranean Sea. UNIFIL operates alongside some 15,000 troops from the LAF, whose deployment in southern Lebanon following the Second Lebanon War was the first (there) in close to 40 years. "If UNIFIL is already there, then we should try to use it to its full potential," explained one senior officer in the Northern Command, characterizing the IDF's mental shift in its attitude toward the new and upgraded UNIFIL. "It is better to talk to them, cooperate with them and hope that they will be able to deliver the goods." According to Hebrew University Professor Efrat Elron, an expert on international peacekeeping operations, the shift in the IDF mentality relates to a post-war understanding that Israeli cooperation assists UNIFIL in doing its job more effectively. "We need to want them to fulfill its mandate in the best way possible," Elron explained. "The more we cooperate with them, the more we allow them to better do their job." According to its mandate, UNIFIL is in charge of monitoring the cease-fire and assisting the LAF in disarming Hizbullah - if they decide to - and in keeping southern Lebanon free of arms except for those carried by the multinational force and the Lebanese troops. To do this, UNIFIL mans close to 200 observation posts in southern Lebanon and conducts over 400 patrols daily throughout its area of operations, which consists of 1,100 square kilometers from the Litani River in the north to the Blue Line border in the south.
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