On Wednesday night (August 4), UNIFIL held a tripartite meeting in southern Lebanon with IDF (Zahal) and LAF officials in order to prevent an escalation in tensions along the Israeli-Lebanese border
Date: 05/08/2010, 4:39 PM Author: Jonatan Urich
On Wednesday evening (Aug 4), representatives of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF (Zahal)), Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) met at the peacekeeping force’s Naqoura headquarters in southern Lebanon. The meeting took place not far from where the grave incident in which the LAF opened fire on IDF (Zahal) forces operating in Israeli territory occurred earlier that day. During the incident, Lt. Col. (res.) Dov Harari was killed and Captain (res.) Ezra Lakia was critically wounded. The meeting was convened by UNIFIL in order to prevent deterioration in relations between the two armies.
The IDF (Zahal) was represented by Brig. Gen. Yossi Hyman, Head of Strategy in the IDF (Zahal) Planning Department, who was brought together with an LAF representative and UNIFIL Commander Gen. Alberto Asarta Cuevas. During the meeting, Gen. Cuevas urged both parties to exercise restraint in order to “refrain from any action that could lead to an escalation”.
Gen. Cuevas asked the LAF and the IDF (Zahal) to cooperate with UNIFIL, in order to prevent any future misunderstandings which could result in even worse consequences. “UNIFIL is in contact with both sides, in order to ensure that the situation in the area is under control and that there is no violation of the Blue Line”, it was reported. Gen. Cuevas also stressed that UNIFIL is still investigating the incident, but initial findings were already presented at the meeting.
On Wednesday evening (Aug. 5), UNIFIL Spokesman Narsh Bahat said that “UNIFIL found that the trees pruned by the IDF (Zahal) are located south of the Blue Line and are therefore located inside Israeli territory”. The Spokesman for the US State Department, Philip Crowley, also discussed the event during a press conference in Washington. According to him, “the shootings by the Lebanese army towards IDF (Zahal) forces on the northern border are completely unjustified”. Crowley also stressed that the pruning work executed by the IDF (Zahal) took place in Israeli territory.