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16 December 1985
INTERIM REPORT OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ON THE
INTERIM FORCE IN LEBANON
1. Since the Security Council, in its resolution
of 17 October 1985, renewed the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon for a further interim period of six months, I have continued, as requested by the Council, to consult with the Government of Lebanon and other parties directly concerned on matters relating to UNIFIL. In the present interim report, I wish to bring members of the Council up to date both on these consultations and on the developments in the UNIFIL area of deployment since 4 October 1985.
Situation in the UNIFIL area of deployment
2. The situation in the UNIFIL area of deployment has remained basically as described in my last report (
, paras. 18
.). That part of the UNIFIL area which the Israeli forces evacuated last spring remained quiet, and the Shiite organisation, Amal, and other Lebanese resistance groups have generally co-operated with the Force in the performance of its tasks. But the other part, where Israel maintains what it calls a “security zone” has been very tense.
3. The “security zone” overlaps in part the area where UNIFIL is fully deployed, including the whole Norwegian battalion sector in the east. It also covers the areas adjacent to the border and the Christian enclave around Marjayoun. In these areas, UNIFIL has only isolated positions and is restricted in its freedom of movement. Access to the “security zone” is controlled by a series of fortified positions, roadblocks and checkpoints, which are manned by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and local Lebanese forces armed and controlled by them, mainly the so-called “South Lebanon Army (SLA)".
4. During the last two months, Lebanese resistance groups continued to launch almost daily attacks against Israeli troops and associated local forces in the “security zone”. These attacks were usually carried out during the hours of darkness, with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades and in some cases rockets and mortars. There were also four roadside bomb incidents. The attacks were particularly frequent in the southern parts of the Nepalese and Irish battalion sectors. On the night of 14/15 November, a rocket apparently fired at an “SLA” position in Rshaf fell short and exploded in a UNIFIL position. UNIFIL personnel escaped injury although the building in which they were billeted was seriously damaged. UNTSO military observer teams also received reports and saw evidence of attacks carried out in the border area south of the UNIFIL area of deployment.
5. During the same period, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and associated local forces carried out a number of search operations in that part of the security zone which overlaps with the UNIFIL area of deployment. The most important ones took place on 22 and 25 November in Chebaa, where five persons were arrested, and on 28 November in the area of Yatar. In the latter case, an IDF unit of some 100 men with 3 tanks, 13 armoured personnel carriers and 2 helicopters sealed off and searched Yatar and its vicinity, following reports that two rockets had impacted on Israeli territory. Several smaller-scale searches were carried out in Ett Taibe. In Chebaa and Ett Taibe, IDF pressed the inhabitants to establish village committees or guards which would have the task of preventing resistance activities. In three cases, IDF and associated local forces expelled inhabitants from their villages; on 2 November, four men were expelled from Chouaya in the Norwegian battalion sector; on 7 and 8 November, the Mukhtar of Bani Hayyan, which is near Markahe, and members of his family were expelled following a failed roadside bomb attempt; on 19 November, 25 families (some 150 persons) were forced to leave their houses in Kunin in apparent retaliation for the defection of 15 villages from the “SLA”. Whenever they were attacked, IDF and associated local forces returned fire, using machine guns, tank guns and mortars.
6. UNIFIL continued its efforts to contain the activities of “SLA” and other irregulars armed and controlled by IDF in its area of deployment. This led to frequent and dangerous confrontations between the irregulars and UNIFIL personnel. Those irregulars often attempted to break through UNIFIL checkpoints, at times using tanks and armoured personnel carriers. From time to time, “SLA” and other irregulars armed and controlled by IDF imposed restrictions on the movement of UNIFIL personnel, which affected in particular the Norwegian battalion. Incidents of firing close to UNIFIL positions by local forces associated with the IDF continued to occur, although their number decreased. All such incidents were protested to the Israeli authorities.
7. In the part of the UNIFIL area that had been evacuated by the Israeli forces, a number of confrontations occurred during the period under review when UNIFIL denied passage through its checkpoints to unauthorised armed personnel. A dangerous confrontation developed in the evening of 19 November in the Irish battalion sector, following the apprehension of four armed men by UNIFIL personnel near a UNIFIL position north-east of Haris. A UNIFIL patrol dispatched to the scene was intercepted and detained by armed elements. Subsequently, two nearby positions were surrounded by armed elements and UNIFIL reinforcements sent from Haddatha came under fire at a road-block, which the armed elements had set up at Ayta Az Zutt. Fire was returned and the road-block was abandoned. The situation was later defused with the assistance of senior personnel of Amal.
Consultations with parties concerned
8. Since May 1985 I and my colleagues have been engaged in an effort to promote agreement on security arrangements in southern Lebanon which would be in line with the mandate entrusted to UNIFIL by the Security Council and would take into account the concerns of the Government of Lebanon for its sovereignty as well as the concerns of the Government of Israel for its security. The role of UNIFIL in such arrangements has, of course, also been discussed. Following the adoption of Security Council resolution 575 (1985) and in continuation of this effort, I held a number of discussions with representatives of the parties concerned at United Nations Headquarters, including the President of Lebanon and the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence of Israel. In addition to these discussions, I asked Mr. Jean-Claude Aime, Director in the Office of the Under-Secretaries-General for Special Political Affairs, to undertake a mission in the area to discuss these matters on the spot with those concerned.
9. In spite of our continuous efforts, the positions of the parties remain far apart. The Government of Israel has announced that it will continue to rely on the so-called "security zone" to ensure the security of its northern settlements and that UNIFIL will not be allowed to deploy to the border. The Government of Lebanon insists that UNIFIL should deploy to the border and fully implement Security Council resolution
. Needless to say, the Government of Lebanon is strongly opposed to the continuing Israeli presence in southern Lebanon and the concept of the "security zone".
10. There is no question that, despite the difficulties encountered, UNIFIL is an important stabilizing factor in southern Lebanon, but the present situation is not acceptable and it could well deteriorate if the level both of resistance to the "security zone” and of the reaction to such resistance increases in the coming months. I note, in this connection, that the leader of Amal has recently made a number of statements of his intention to step up activities against the “South Lebanon Army" and Israel if there is no change in the present situation by the end of the year.
11. As I have indicated on several occasions, UNIFIL for obvious reasons has no right to impede Lebanese acts of resistance against foreign occupation, nor does it have the mandate and the means to prevent countermeasures by the Israeli forces and their associates. So far the men of UNIFIL have done their utmost to protect the civilian population and to reduce acts of violence to the minimum. But in case of a further escalation of violence, UNIFIL would inevitably find itself in an increasingly difficult position. The Governments which contribute troops to UNIFIL are deeply concerned at probable developments in southern Lebanon if the present basic conditions are allowed to persist, and I fully share their concern.
12. I feel it is my duty to bring this matter to the attention of the Security Council. I am anxious, at the least, to minimise the risks of the present
and to preserve the credibility of UNIFIL. Obviously, the most effective means of doing this would he a change in the Israeli position. Failing that, the alternatives are not promising. Were UNIFIL to be withdrawn, I have no doubt whatsoever that a disastrous increase in violence in southern Lebanon would ensue. If this were to happen, there is also no doubt that, whatever the truth of the matter, there would be a tendency to put much of the blame on the United Nations, and the concept of United Nations peace-keeping would be correspondingly weakened. On the other hand, if UNIFIL remains in place in a deteriorating situation, it will become increasingly difficult for the Force to operate in its function of limiting violence, assisting and protecting the civilian population and establishing international peace and security in the area.
13. In addition to the basic problems relating to the mandate and functioning of UNIFIL, the financial difficulties faced by the Force have further increased despite my intensive efforts. If no remedial measures can be found, this matter will reach a critical level and will also require the special attention of the Security Council.
14. I am not, at this time, making any recommendations to the Council for future action. I hope, however, that the members of the Council will consider carefully the present situation in southern Lebanon and ponder on what action might be taken by its members, either individually or collectively, to further the implementation of its resolutions on UNIFIL and to bring about peace and normality in southern Lebanon, an objective which all parties share.