« Home | Ireland, UNIFIL and the Lebanon » | Barr Report » | Public Health Warning for Silly Notes » | On the rewards of taking screen-caps » | "Israel doesn't target civilians" » | Safely back in Ireland » | The Problem with Joe explained » | Psychological Warfare » | Celebrations in the streets last night » | Borat: The Movie » 

Sunday, July 23, 2006 


UNIFIL is only a shell of its peak strength of 5,600, since the Israeli withdrawal and the collapse of their DFF creation - the UNIFIL website lists a strength of 1,990 UNIFIL troops, and there are an additional 50 UNTSO observers. About a dozen of the total are Irish, if we remember correctly (the mission itself is issuing press releases, which can be seen at the UNIFIL website). Most notable reports in the past few days:

UNIFIL press release, 17th July (PDF):
"There is also a growing concern about the safety of UN personnel deployed in the area. Yesterday, there were 17 incidents of firing close to UNIFIL positions, and two direct impacts inside UNIFIL positions. There was significant material damage, and one member of the Indian battalion with UNIFIL was seriously wounded by shrapnels from the tank fire from the Israeli side.
Following a report about Lebanese civilians killed on the road between Al Bayyadah and Sharma, as their two vehicles were fleeing from the Marwahin village, UNIFIL retrieved 16 bodies and transported them to Tyre. During this mission, UNIFIL medical teams also came under fire. Despite some media reports and statements in the press, these were not the same civilians who had approached UNIFIL for shelter earlier that day.

The Lebanese government requested UNIFIL to provide a humanitarian secort to the villagers seeking safe passage outside of Marwahin. UNIFIL dispatched a patrol to the village the same day, which stayed with the villagers throughout the night. Yesterday, UNIFIL was able to provide a humanitarian escort to 283 villagers from that area to Tyre. During this mission the team came under fire, which endangered the lives of local civilians and UNIFIL troops. Initially, Hezbollah fired rockets from the vicinity of the village and subsequently the IDF fired into village on two occasions.

Furthermore, UNIFIL requested the IDF for a safe passage in order to transport humanitarian assistance provided by CARITAS, from Tyre to the border villages of Rmeich and Ayn Ibil. The response to the request is still pending since 14 July, although it has been repeated by UNIFIL again today.

Today, UNIFIL carried out a small humanitarian convoy between Tyre and Naquora, and will attempt to provide mater supply to a civilian hospital with 500 people in Tibnin"
Nicholas Blanford, writing in Time, 19th July:
"So far UNIFIL, which has been in Lebanon since 1978, when Israel launched its first major incursion into Lebanon, and today numbers around 2,000 peacekeepers, has found itself almost powerless to intercede. "The situation is very serious and the fighting is continuing to intensify," says Milos Strugar, UNIFIL's senior adviser.

UNIFIL'S headquarters runs for half a mile along a broad stretch of rocky coastline in the village of Naqoura, one mile north of the border with Israel. From an old French mandate customs house in the center of the base, UNIFIL's top staff are assessing how to best protect and provide assistance to the beleaguered population of south Lebanon, but also how to keep running themselves.

Supplies — fuel and drinking water especially — are running short, and there seems little immediate prospect of resupply from Beirut. U.N. staff are negotiating with Israel to grant safe passage to a resupply column and also to allow APCs to rescue trapped villagers looking to leave and transport casualties to hospitals. The response from the Israeli military, according to Strugar, "was not forthcoming.""
UNIFIL press release, Friday 21st July (PDF):
"There were seven incidents of firing close to UN positions during the past 24 hours, with three positions suffering direct hits from the Israeli side. Three artillery shells impacted on the building inside the patrol base of the Observer Group Lebanon (OGL) in the Marun Al Ras area, causing extensive damage to the buildings and vehicles, but with no casualties. Four artillery shells also hit this position a day earlier. There are 34 civilians from the village of Marun Al Ras inside the position. One artillery shell impacted inside the UNIFIL Headquarters compound in Naqoura yesterday evening, and one impacted inside a Ghanaian battalion position in the area of the village of Marwahin this morning. No casualties were reported, but there was material damage. UN equipment and vehicles were also damaged by splinters in the Ghanaian battalion position in the area of At Tiri in the central sector, and in the patrol base of the OGL in the Khiyam area in the eastern sector.
UNIFIL provided humanitarian escort from Naqoura to Tyre for the local civilians. UNIFIL also carried out a medical evacuation from Naqoura to the hospital in Tyre of a child who was operated on in the UNIFIL hospital. There are reports of concentration of local civilian population displaced from the border areas in towns further north in the area. At present, there are around 2500 in Kleyaa, over 1000 in Hasbaya, 1000 in Tibnin, some 700 in Ain Quenia, as well as in Marjayoun, El Mari, Rmeich, Bint Jubayil, Deir Mimmes, and Ebl El Saqi. Some humanitarian convoys are planned for today, but the ability to move will depend on the situation on the ground."
Nicholas Blanford (Time magazine), Friday 21st July:
"The southern hinterland beyond Tyre has become a killing zone. Here the dead lie under the rubble of houses destroyed in air strikes and the wounded die in the streets for lack of medical attention. Almost all the roads that criss-cross the hills and valleys of the south have been heavily cratered from multiple air strikes, making them impassable. Even United Nations peacekeepers with their armored personnel carriers have abandoned the effort to resupply or evacuate residents of southern villages because of the conditions of the roads and the Israeli shelling and air strikes. "We are in close contact with the Israelis to request safe passage but their answer has not been forthcoming," says Milos Strugar, senior advisor to the UN force, known as UNIFIL.

Lebanese Red Cross volunteers, young men and women who regularly venture out to the beleaguered villages to rescue casualties, retrieve bodies and hand out whatever medicines and food they can muster, say that starving dogs abandoned by their owners are beginning to eat the dead.

Sami Yazbek, chief of the Lebanese Red Cross in Tyre, claims that even his clearly marked white-and-orange ambulances have been attacked by Israeli missile fire, which blow up the road yards in front of their vehicles. The unrelenting pressure to bring aid to the stranded villagers is beginning to take a psychological toll on his team of 50 volunteers. Distraught civilians in outlying villages constantly call in for help, Yazbek says, but often there is nothing the Red Cross can do. "We hear them pleading on the phone and we can't help but cry. It's very stressful for the guys," he says."
Meanwhile, as Macdara[1] and his caretaker blogger have been pointing out, the United States has been doing its bit for Lebanon too. Surely, Freedom is on the march.

[1] we see that Macdara has attracted the attentions of a deranged American wingnut harpy living here in Dublin, whose blog (and you saw this coming) was recently introduced to the world by a certain Irish-Canadian admirer.

"Libel"-Richard Waghorne
"Attack blog"-Damien Mulley

About me

  • An early-thirties male Irish technologist living and working in Dublin, I'm a former (recovering) member of both Fianna Fáil and the Roman Catholic Church.

    I'm not a member of any political party these days, but my opinions can be broadly categorised as 'lefty' and republican. I am also a former member of the Irish Defence Forces.

    Please feel free to check out the FI Fie Foe Fum group blog, where I was once a regular contributor, and the Cedar Lounge Revolution, where I can usually be found in the comments.

    (This blog and its contents reflect only my own personal opinions as a private citizen, and not those of any other person or organisation.)



Powered by Blogger
and Blogger Templates