INTRODUCTION: The Security Council on Friday (18 December) renewed the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for another six months.
1. SV UN armoured vehicle passing through checkpoint. 0.15
2. CU Checkpoint guards with Irish shoulder-flashes. 0.19
3. LV & CU Guard on roof watches as soldier searches car before passing through checkpoint. (2 SHOTS) 0.50
4. CU & SV Soldier watches from guard post as UN vehicles manoeuvre. (3 SHOTS) 1.04
5. SV PAN & TRAVEL SHOTS Patrol convoy passing on road overlooking valley. (3 SHOTS) 1.36
6. SV & CU Irish foot patrol in valley. (2 SHOTS) 1.49
7. CU & LV Radio operator receives message and patrol scatters. (2 SHOTS) 2.00
8. CU Troops taking cover behind rocks. (2 SHOTS) 2.06
9. SV PAN UN patrol passing. 2.21
RADIO OPERATOR:"Take cover."
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: SOUTHERN LEBANON
INTRODUCTION: The Security Council on Friday (18 December) renewed the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for another six months. The 6-thousand man force, established in 1978 at Israeli request, comprises units from Fiji, France, Ghana, Italy, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Senegal, Sweden and Ireland... with the Irish one of the latest arrivals.
SYNOPSIS: The Irish are based in Southern Lebanon in areas such as Tibnin, Yater, and Beit Yahoun. Their mission, in association with other contingents, is the same as it was in 1978 -- to control the entire zone from the Israeli border to the Litani River. But as the Israelis withdrew three years ago, Major Saad Haddad, a renegade Lebanese, set up what amounted to his own tiny state in an 11-kilometre (7 mile) wide enclave along the border. His Israeli-backed Christian militia has been blamed for much of the tension in the south, and has prevented United Nations troops moving down to the border proper.
The United Nations Security Council says it is determined to enable UNIFIL to function in its entire area of operation up to internationally recognised boundaries. But it admits that both the Christian Militia and the activities of Palestinian guerrillas have frustrated that resolve. The Lebanese governments has asked the United Nations for a stronger UNIFIL commitment in the area and the Security Council has decided to review the entire operation in two months. In the meantime, Irish armoured patrols like this one continue to fight what amounts to an unwinnable campaign, waiting for the conflict to come to them, and as peacekeepers, by definition, unable to fire except when attacked.
Foot patrol such as this are the most vulnerable. Above, the armoured patrol acts as a protective cover, constantly in touch by two-way radio.
Essentially, UNIFIL has been successful restoring peace in its own area of operation, particularly in consolidating a truce reached in July after fighting between Israeli and Palestinian forces.
The next step is to restore the authority of the Lebanese government and its army in the area. But as UNIFIL commanders point out, that won't happen until there's a political decision to expand into the Christian Militia enclave.
Source: REUTERS - MOHAMMED AWWAD