Thursday, July 27, 2006

Even the UN are used as human shields

As the world is outraged by the death of four Unifil members at the hands of Israeli artillery fire, I was keeping quiet until more news would creep out, which it inevitably would.

Israel does not attack people for no reason, and it also does not attack a target by mistake for hours on end. These facts are a given, and so it follows the attack at or near the Unifil post must have been deliberate, and it must have been justified. The death of the Unifil members was perhaps not intentional, but it was not something Israel was bound to avoid if the price was a carte blanche shelling from Hezbullah. And this was exactly the issue.

On Oktober 7th, 2000, Hezbullah crossed the border of Israel and kidnapped three Israeli soldiers. The UN witnessed the entire event and VIDEOTAPED it. There are strong indications that elements of the UN forces present were involved in the terrorist operation.
At first, the UN flatly denied it had videotapes of the kidnapping. When denial was no longer possible,
On July 6, 2001, the U.N. finally admitted that they possessed the tape as of 18 hours after the incident occurred.

Some believe the denial was intentional. They believe that UNIFIL workers in the area had prior knowledge of the kidnapping plot, but did nothing to prevent it. Hizbullah crossed through a U.N. patrolled area to get to the Israeli soldiers.
What was on the tape? Apart from the fact that - just as today - a clear act of war had been committed against Israel, the IDF also faced what was essentially a criminal investigation. A video tape would constitute all but a complete answer to the question "Who did it?"
Immediately after the U.N. admitted to possessing the tape, Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer demanded that the videotape be handed over to Israel and condemned the U.N. for withholding evidence that may have helped lead to the soldiers' safe return to their families.

The U.N. refused to turn over the tape, citing a desire to remain neutral in the region.
Israel argued that the tape should be given to Israel because:
  • Israel was the victim of the kidnapping, which was an act of aggression and an international crime.
  • Israel is a U.N. member State, and the kidnapping was orchestrated by a terrorist group.
  • In their role as peacekeepers, it was the duty of UNIFIL to prevent the kidnapping in the first place.
On July 30, 2001 the U.S. Congress voted (411-4) for a resolution calling on the U.N. to release the tape.

The U.N. agreed to allow Israel to view the videotapes under certain conditions:
  • The tapes would be edited in order to obscure the faces of the kidnappers.
  • The first viewing of the tapes, at the United Nations headquarters in New York, would be for an Israeli team, which included Israeli military officers and Israeli ambassador to the U.N. David Lancry
  • A second viewing session, in Vienna, would be for the families of the three kidnapped soldiers
  • Only some of the 51 items taken from the cars used to kidnap the soldiers will be given to the Israelis.
Israel initially rejected these terms and demanded to receive an uncensored and unaltered version of the videotapes. However the U.N. insisted these conditions were in the interests of U.N. neutrality. The U.N. did not want to be accused by one party in the conflict of providing intelligence to another party. In the end, the Israelis accepted the U.N.'s editing and viewing conditions of the tapes.
The UN wants to remain neutral in a conflict between a member state and a designated terrorist organization.

There are many other instances of the UN interfering in the conflict on behalf of the Arabs/muslims, but never stopping terrorists. They function as a one-way street for the terrorists. It was never clear wether the white SUV used in the 2000 kidnapping was only made to look like a UN vehicle, or was in fact one, and if the latter, how it was obtained.

Now it
has become clear that the Unifil post that was recently shelled by Israel was in fact used by Hezbullah as an artillery location:
Hezbollah firing was also reported from the immediate vicinity of the UN positions in Naquoura and Maroun Al Ras at the time of the incidents.
Wether or not Unifil willingly acted as humans shields, trusting the Isaeli's not to fire back, or they were unware of the danger they were in, will probably never be known. To Israel, it is also irrelevant: It has no choice. When the terrorists fire at Israel, they expose themselves to counter battery fire, and Israel has a rare chance to destroy them. If it cannot take into account women and children used as human shields, it certainly will not hesitate to fire back at terrorists using Unifil forces as human shields. Go here for the relevant press releases from Unifil. There are many references to Hezbullah firing at Israel from positions very close to Unifil positions, and even at Unifil itself, wounding Unifil personnel.

Israel has no reason at all to trust the UN, certainly not on the ground in Lebanon, and there are many reason to distrust and suspect the UN forces. Taking into account recent history as summarized previously, there are few tears spent in Israel over lives lost among Unifil personnel.

Israel needs to hide politically behind such excuses as 'mistakes', 'grave errors', etc, but between the lines, the message to the UN and Hezbullah is clear: "We will not hesitate to open fire, even if terrorists hide behind women and children, even if terrorists hide behind UN forces. You can run, but you can't hide."


Anonymous Daniel said...

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9:23 AM  

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