Continual clashes in Southern Lebanon between Israeli forces and Palestinian guerrillas are reportedly putting the United Nations Interim Forces (UNIFIL) Mandate in jeopardy.
Continual clashes in Southern Lebanon between Israeli forces and Palestinian guerrillas are reportedly putting the United Nations Interim Forces (UNIFIL) Mandate in jeopardy. The mandate is due for renewal next month (June) and diplomats fear that several countries may decline to contribute troops to the six thousand strong force. In one of the latest incidents about two hundred Israeli troops backed by thirty tanks occupied the South Lebanese village of Shaqra (on Wednesday 9 May).
SYNOPSIS: Israeli jets have been striking points in Southern Lebanon for several days. These attacks follow a rejection by Lebanese Premier Salim Al-Hoss of Israeli Premier Menachem Begin's proposals for peace talks between them. And at this town of Ain Al Mezrak Israeli troops shelled positions they believed were held by Palestinians. The fighting occurred in a zone occupied by an Irish United Nations battalion.
Although the Israeli advance was halted by the UN troops in a nearby village, the bombardment of Ain Al Mezrak continued.
The Israeli troops who claimed to be pursuing Palestinian raiders were halted five miles (8 kilometres) inside Lebanon at Shaqra. Here they met the Irish UNIFIL troops, and after negotiations during which the Irish troops were reinforced the Israeli withdrew from the village. The occupation is believed to be the first direct Israeli penetration into a UN controlled area since their invasion of South Lebanon in nineteen seventy-eight. Lebanese Christian Major Saad Haddad looked on during the UN-Israeli confrontation.
Some residents reported that Major Haddad's militia troops have been recruiting villagers in the southern region to join his "State of Free Lebanon" or else be attacked by his forces. The United Nations force has been placed in an increasingly difficult situation since the upsurge infighting in the zone. An official report issued by the UNIFIL Command in Beirut on wednesday (9 May) said its men had come under fire on three separate occasions in the past week.