As the United Nations' peacekeeping force in the South Lebanon takes up new positions between Palestinian guerrillas and the Israeli occupation forces, both sides seem to have been observing the ceasefire and there have been no reports of fighting.
GV AERIAL U.N. vehicles on road
SV U.N. troops moving into position (2 shots)
CU Automatic weapon PULL BACK TO GV U.N. troops seated
SV Abandoned tanks and hijacked trucks (3 shots)
TV PAN U.N. troops and vehicles (4 shots)
SV Israeli tanks on move (2 shots)
GV & SV U.N. soldiers loading vehicles (4 shots)
SV INT Car-Major-General Emmanuel Erskine, commander U.N. forces Lebanon
GV Car carrying Erskine enters building
SV & GV U.N. vehicle behind fence
"As the Israeli forces withdraw, the U.N. patrols are to extend southwards and, working in co-operation with the Lebanese government, the men in the sky-blue helmets are supposed to ensure that these traditionally lawless hills remain peaceful. Only an idealist would rate their chances of doing so as better than even.
"The troops who've come in are equipped with personal weapons up to and including machine guns. The private armies in the Lebanon, the Palestinians and the Christian militia are equipped with heavy weapons including tanks. The United Nations' observers who used to be here were easy prey. They were unarmed and their jeeps and trucks were regularly hijacked by guerrillas or Phalangists.
"But the new force is armed and can shoot in self-defence. But self-defence includes, in the words of the U.N. Secretary General, resistance to attempts by forceful means to prevent it from discharging its duties. it seems almost inevitable that those terms of reference will lead eventually to a shoot-out with the Palestinians or Christians or both.
"The Israelis are almost openly contemptuous of the U.N. troops. Hardened veterans of the Six Day War in Yom Kippur believe it will take better men than these to stop Palestinian infiltration a cross the Litani river. And there are logistical problems. The need for fuel, food, water and other stores averages out at about 140 pounds per man, per day. Multiplied by 4,000 men that is a daily requirement of 280 tons, most of which will have to be moved by road, and that means few soldiers available for peacekeeping duties.
"These are some of the problems facing Major-General Emmanuel Alexander Erskine, formerly head of the Ghanian army and now the man picked to command UNITAL, jargon for United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon. General Erskine has already talked to the P.L.O. leader, Yasser Arafat and he is worried about whether his force can keep the peace. The political situation here is explosive and many of the U.N. troops expect to find themselves in action sooner rather than later. This is Christopher Wain in southern Lebanon."
Informed sources in the South Lebanon say that the Palestine Liberation Organisation (P.L.O) is co-operating with the United Nations forces in accordance with assurances given to the United Nations commander Major-General Erskine by P.L.O. leader Yasser Arafat when the two men met in Beirut earlier this week. But other Palestinian leaders have said they will continue their fight against Israel. George Habash, head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (P.F.L.P.) said on Thursday at a mass meeting: "We will not allow anyone to ask us to withdraw one millimetre from the areas where the Palestinian revolution is now deployed....we wish to tell the U.N. interim force that we cannot know anything called ceasefire".
REPORTER: CHRISTOPHER WAIN
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: As the United Nations' peacekeeping force in the South Lebanon takes up new positions between Palestinian guerrillas and the Israeli occupation forces, both sides seem to have been observing the ceasefire and there have been no reports of fighting. On Thursday (30 March) the only tense incident came when about 50 French paratroopers approached a bridge near the coastal city of Tyre, held by the Palestinians. They withdrew after verbal exchanges, but no fighting, reports Reuters news agency. Here, with a report on how the United Nations forces are settling in to a difficult job is Christopher Wain of the British Broadcasting Corporation.