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The UN has finally started withdrawing its observers from the war zone in southern Lebanon, the AP reports this morning:
The United Nations has decided to remove unarmed observers from their posts along the Israeli-Lebanese border, moving them in with the peacekeeping force in the area, a spokesman said Friday.
The decision came after one of the posts of the observer force, known as UNTSO, was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike earlier this week, killing four.
The press will no doubt spin this as the fault of the Israelis. However, the UN has known of Hezbollah's efforts to use the UNTSO bases as shields for their offensive operations for at least the last two weeks, if not longer. Their own report from July 20th, compiled by their own analysts, made this clear:
28. Control of the Blue Line and its vicinity appears to have remained for the most part with Hizbollah. During the reporting period, Hizbollah maintained and reinforced a visible presence in the area, with permanent observation posts, temporary checkpoints and patrols. It continued to carry out intensive construction works to strengthen and expand some of its fixed positions, install additional technical equipment, such as cameras, establish new positions close to the Blue Line and build new access roads. These measures resulted in a more strategically laid out and fortified structure of Hizbollah’s deployment along the Blue Line. Some Hizbollah positions remained in close proximity to United Nations positions, especially in the Hula area, posing a significant security risk to United Nations personnel and equipment, as demonstrated during the heavy exchanges of fire on 28 May. In letters to the Foreign Minister, dated 23 March, 27 June and 5 July 2006, the Force Commander, General Pellegrini, expressed grave concern about the Hizbollah construction works in close proximity to United Nations positions and requested that the Government of Lebanon take necessary actions to rectify the situation. However, the situation remained unchanged despite repeated objections addressed by UNIFIL to the Lebanese authorities. UNIFIL observed the reconstruction of Hizbollah positions that were damaged or destroyed during the 28 May exchange of fire.
UNIFIL told the UN back in March that Hezbollah had created this danger; responsibility for the deaths of the UNTSO personnel lie with Turtle Bay and Kofi Annan. (via It Shines For All)Sphere It View blog reactions
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Tracked on July 28, 2006 12:17 PM
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