Stability of UN Lebanon Force Worries Israel as France Announces Pullback
Concern is growing inside Israel over the stability of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, following French and Italian announcements of troop withdrawals from the international group helping to keep Hezbollah from fully rearming itself.
The Algemeiner reported earlier on Thursday that Hezbollah has acquired advanced surface to air missiles which formerly belonged to Libyan dictator Muammar Gadaffi, according to an Israeli official.
Earlier this week, France said that it will decrease it’s contribution to the UN Lebanon force by 400 bodies. This follows a similar announcement made in 2011 by Italy. Representatives from both countries have been the victims of attacks inside Lebanon, although according to a Jerusalem Post report, the premise for downsizing is a fiscal matter and is not security related.
“This is concerning but expected,” a senior Israeli defense official said. “We hope the Europeans remain committed to the operation since without them it will be a force that is not particularly efficient,” an Israeli official told The Post.
The UN force, known as UNIFIL, increased it’s mandate in 2006 following the war between Israel and Lebanon, to include closer collaboration with the Lebanese Armed Forces in ensuring the stability of the country’s borders and limiting “the potential for assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon” to enter into the country, according to it’s website.