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July 23, 2018 1:51 pm

UN Peacekeeping Body in Southern Lebanon, Long Derided for Inaction Against Hezbollah, Set for New Commander to Take Charge

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The Israel-Lebanon border area. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon will soon have a new commander.

On Aug. 7, Italian Maj. Gen. Stefano Del Col will replace Irish Maj. Gen. Michael Beary, who has served in the role since the summer of 2016.

Recent UNIFIL commanders have all served terms of 2-3 years.

In March, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told The Algemeiner that UNIFIL “must do more” to thwart Hezbollah’s armament efforts.

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“All too often they do not report on the full extent of the dangerous buildup of missiles and rockets in southern Lebanon,” Danon said of UNIFIL. “The fact is that despite the presence of UNIFIL, Hezbollah today is stronger than ever.”

Last September, in an Algemeiner op-ed, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley hailed changes made to UNIFIL’s mandate meant to bolster its ability to carry out its mission.

The “status quo with UNIFIL was unacceptable, so the United States refused to accept it,” she wrote.

“For the United States, this is a time for strength, resolve, and accountability at the United Nations,” Haley declared. “That’s what our effort at strengthening UNIFIL was all about.”

On Sunday, former Israeli UN envoy Ron Prosor asserted that Del Col would have “difficult task of rebuilding the UN force in Lebanon, after Beary lost any credibility UNIFIL could have had, by turning a blind eye to Hezbollah’s illegal operations” in southern Lebanon.

“Now the burden of proof is on Major General Del Col,” Prosor stated. “There’s nothing I want more than to see him succeed in his mission, and if he does I’ll be the first to applaud him, as his success can help keep peace and order in the Middle East and beyond. However, if he follows in Beary’s footsteps, I will not rest until he changes his ways. UNIFIL has a vital role to play here, and it’s up to the force commander to implement and fulfill its mandate.”

The Israel-Lebanon border has remained largely quiet since the summer of 2006, when the Israel Defense Forces fought a 33-day-long war against Iran-backed Hezbollah — a conflict which resulted in the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

Earlier this year, UNIFIL marked the 40th anniversary of its establishment following Operation Litani — a one-week offensive the IDF conducted in March 1978 against the Palestine Liberation Organization, when was then based in southern Lebanon.

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