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13 October 1986
REPORT OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ON THE
UNITED NATIONS INTERIM FORCE IN LEBANON
1. The present report is submitted in pursuance of Security Council resolution 587 (1986) of 23 September 1986, which requested the Secretary-General to report to the Council within 21 days on its application.
2. During the period covered by this report (18 September-13 October 1986), there has been a marked reduction in attacks against the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). There were three such attacks, all of which occurred during the first 10 days of that period. The first attack took place in the morning of 19 September when a rocket was fired at a French position at Dirdghaya, wounding five French soldiers, one of them seriously. On 23 September, four rockets were fired at the French position at Ma'rakah; one of them hit the dining hall but caused no casualties. On 28 September, a wire-controlled roadside bomb was exploded on the road north of Aytit as a French logistic convoy was passing by; two soldiers received minor injuries and their truck was damaged. It was not possible to confirm the identity of the attackers in any of the above incidents. Since 28 September there have been no attacks against UNIFIL personnel.
3. UNIFIL has reported three serious incidents affecting the local population in its area during the reporting period. On 20 September, the Koran school in Siddigin was hit by three rockets fired by unknown persons; 10 villagers were injured and treated in the Tyre hospital. On 26 September the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and the so-called "South Lebanon Army" (SLA) carried out a search operation in Yatar and demolished four houses; the next day they shelled the village with mortar fire from their nearby position, killing a girl and injuring three others. On 28 September, armed elements attacked an SLA position at Markabe, following which IDF/SLA personnel, supported by tanks and helicopter gunships, carried out a search operation in Tallusah and shelled the village of Majdal Slim and Qabrikha. Nearby at Thamiriyah, a civilian car was destroyed by a missile fired from a helicopter, killing two of the passengers and injuring two others. UNIFIL has protested to the Israeli authorities the search operations and the shelling of Lebanese villages. Information available to UNIFIL indicates that a number of similar serious incidents took place between armed elements and IDF/SLA personnel in the "security zone" outside UNIFIL area.
4. UNIFIL was indirectly affected by the fighting which began on 30 September between Amal and Palestinians in the Rashidiyah refugee camp south of Tyre. While the camp is outside the UNIFIL area of operation, intermittent firing interrupted traffic on the coastal road, which is an important supply route for UNIFIL.
5. Operative paragraph 5 of resolution 587 (1986) requested me to take any further measures needed to enhance the security of UNIFIL personnel. In this context, I dispatched my Military Adviser, Brigadier-General Timothy Dibuama, to Naquora to discuss with the Force Commander implementation of the measures described in paragraphs 16 and 17 of my report of 18 September 1986 (S/18348) and to examine with him the further measures that could be taken if additional resource. were available.
6. During the reporting period, the Force Commander has concentrated his efforts on implementation of the measures described in paragraphs 16 and 17 of that report, and in particular the crash programme for additional reinforced shelters and the improvement of the physical defences or all positions. All materials that were already in store have been used and additional materials have been ordered to the value of approximately $1.5 million, this being the limit of the resources currently available for redeployment on a priority basis. Meanwhile, units are carrying out such improvement as they can on a self-help basis.
7. In order to implement the programme for the consolidation of the Force's deployment, the Force Commander has identified 49 positions (out of a total of 169 permanent positions) that are vulnerable and/or of limited operational value in present circumstances. Those located in the French battalion sector have already closed. The others are being closed as soon as possible.
8. The Force has refined its precautions against attacks and further measures are being taken, again within available resources, to secure the areas surrounding UNIFIL positions. Procedures at roadblocks are being revised to improve security. Liaison at the local level is being intensified to ensure understanding of UNIFIL's role and to avoid incidents.
9. Patrolling procedures have also been revised and additional measures have been taken to secure roads used by the Force and, in particular, to guard against roadside bombs. Maximum use is made of armoured vehicles for the protection of troops when they are on patrol or escorting logistic convoys. In the latter connection, the Force Commander has decided to deploy a composite mechanized company, consisting of Finnish, Ghanaian and Irish troops, east of Qana, the site of Fiji battalion headquarters, in a location with good road links to all sectors in the western part of UNIFIL's area of deployment. This unit will in future serve as the force mobile reserve and will be available for quick deployment to any trouble spots. It will also escort supply convoys as needed and carry out while patrols in the Fijian and Nepalese sectors as these two battalions are not equipped with armoured vehicles.
10. Redeployment of the French infantry battalion was completed on 26 September. A little more than half of the battalion is now stationed in Naquora. It has taken over responsibility for the security of the Force headquarters compound, which also includes the logistic component, the helicopter wing and the medical company, thereby releasing a company of the Ghanaian battalion and the escort company of the French logistic battalion, which was not replaced when that battalion was rotated early in the current month. The remainder of the French infantry battalion is deployed in the Jwayya area. Nepalese troops have taken over positions in the western part of the former French sector and Ghanaian and Finnish troops in the central and eastern parts respectively.
11. The steps that the Force Commander has taken to improve UNIFIL's security since mid-August have revealed that a major bottle-neck is the availability of engineering services. I am accordingly asking each of the seven countries that contribute infantry battalions to include in their battalions, with effect from the next rotation, an engineer platoon
of specialized tradesmen. This will not involve any net increase in the size of the Force, as the engineer platoon will be absorbed by each battalion through internal reorganization.
12. All the above measures can be taken within the resources at present available to the Force. However, if we are to achieve a better level of protection for the troops and if the Force is to carry out fully the consolidation and rationalization of its deployment, additional funds will he required. I instructed the Force Commander in consultation with my Military Adviser, to study this matter in detail, bearing in mind that every possible effort should be made to hold
additional expenditure to the minimum necessary and to reduce substantially the preliminary estimate of $30 million in my last report.
13. General Hagglund is convinced that the provision of additional armoured cars would do most to enhance the protection of UNIFIL personnel on mobile duties. He accordingly recommends the acquisition of 29 such vehicles. In addition, he think that 3 new positions should be opened, 14 further positions reinforced (in addition to those in the crash programme) and one battalion headquarters relocated. General Hagglund has submitted to me a detailed plan that would involve capital expenditures totalling about $10.5 million as follow:
Purchase of armoured cars
Purchase of night observation devices
Purchase of engineer plant and dump trucks
(1 excavator, 1 bulldozer and 3 dump-trucks)
Construction of new positions and relocation
of one battalion headquarters
Reinforcement of 14 further positions, in
addition to crash programme already under way
14. I endorse General Hagglund's recommendations, which I feel are an appropriate response to UNIFIL's security requirements in the present circumstances. The estimated cost of $10.5 million is a non-recurrent expenditure. If the Security Council has no objection, I shall seek the approval of the General Assembly for the necessary budgetary appropriations during its current session.
15. In addition to measures to improve the physical security of UNIFIL personnel, I have pursued efforts at the diplomatic level to get the attacks stopped. It has still proved impossible to establish with certainty the identity or political affiliation of those responsible for the attacks, though it has been widely alleged that they have been the work of armed elements belonging to the organization known as Hezbollah. In recent weeks, I have had the opportunity to discuss UNIFIL with senior representatives of the Lebanese Government and a wide, range of other interested Governments, including the Foreign Ministers of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Syrian Arab Republic. Both ministers expressed concern and stated their readiness to use their good offices to improve the security of UNIFIL personnel.
Efforts aimed at the deployment of UNIFIL
to the international border
16. Operative paragraph 8 of resolution 587 (1986) requested me to make the necessary arrangements for the deployment of UNIFIL to the southern border of Lebanon and solemnly called upon all the parties concerned to co-operate in the achievement of that objective.
17. As I have repeatedly stated in the past, UNIFIL, like all United Nations peace-keeping operations, is not an enforcement action and requires the co-operation of the parties to fulfil its mandate. An essential condition for the deployment of UNIFIL to the international border is the agreement of the Israeli Government to withdraw its forces from Lebanese territory and to abandon the concept of the so-called "security zone". Following the adoption of Security Council resolution 587 (1986) , discussions were resumed with the Israeli authorities in a further attempt to achieve the above objective.
18. The Israeli authorities reaffirmed that Israel had no territorial ambitions in Lebanon. Israel's only objective in Lebanon was to protect northern Israel against attacks launched from Lebanon. Until Lebanon could produce an effective Government with which Israel could agree on permanent security arrangements, Israel would continue to work with any Lebanese party genuinely interested in preventing "terror" in the south of Lebanon and the north of Israel. The Israeli authorities recognized that UNIFIL had tried to assist in bringing stability to the area and that it had performed a useful role. Peace-keeping forces, in their view, were most effective when they served as buffers between two States that shared a commitment to pacify their common border. But this was not the case with Lebanon and peace-keepers could not be asked to combat "terrorists". That role must be left to the Governments and people in the area of turmoil. Israel, they said, would continue to co-operate with UNIFIL but would maintain the security arrangements it found necessary to defend its northern border. At the current time Israel could not agree to complete withdrawal of its forces from Lebanese territory, but the Israeli authorities stated that they remained ready to give serious consideration to concrete proposals put forward by the United Nations, which took into account their concrete proposals for the security of their northern border. They stressed that Israel could not be held responsible for the present state of affairs in southern Lebanon. Responsibility, they said, lay with Hezbollah and the Governments that supported it.
19. My representatives also discussed the deployment of UNIFIL to the international border with the Lebanese authorities. The latter reaffirmed their insistence on the immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from all Lebanese territory in accordance with Security Council resolution 425 (1918). They again stated that if such a withdrawal were achieved they would ensure that there would be no return to the situation that had existed in southern Lebanon before 1982.
20. In a separate but related effort to achieve progress towards implementation of UNIFIL's mandate, I have pursued during the reporting period the idea, described in paragraph 20 of my last report (S/18348), that the Lebanese authorities might deploy a unit of the Lebanese Army to the north-western part of UNIFIL's area of deployment as a first step towards the return of their effective authority in southern Lebanon. The Lebanese authorities have accepted in principle that elements of the Lebanese army should be deployed to southern Lebanon to co-operate with UNIFIL in implementing its mandate. Details of this deployment are under active discussion between General Hagglund and the Lebanese Military Council. I hope that agreement will shortly he reached.
21. I am relieved to be able to report that attacks against UNIFIL personnel have markedly decreased and that no further lives have been lost since my last report to the Security Council. In recent days there has been a lull and I hope that this marks an end to these attacks. I nevertheless attach importance to the security measures that are already under implementation and to the additional measures described above. I have, furthermore, instructed the Force Commander to examine, on a continuing basis, any possibilities there may be for further varying the size and deployment of the Force's contingents, if this would enhance their security without impairing the Force's efficiency.
22. UNIFIL's position will, however, remain precarious as long as it is prevented from carrying out t.hp mandate originally given to it, The further efforts I have made during the past three weeks to achieve progress towards implementation of Security Council resolution 425 (1978) , including the deployment of UNIFIL to the international harder, have 01'\ far b~en inconclusive. The situation i~ southern Lebanon remains exceptionally complicated and much determined effort will be required to achieve the C()l Council's objectives.
23. As I have stated in a previous report, Israel has a legitimate concern over the security of its northern border, across which it has been in the past, and still is, subjected to attack. The task given to UNIFIL of restoring international peace and security will not, however, be fulfilled unless the security of both Lebanon and Israel along the international border is assured. When I urge Israel to withdraw its forces completely from Lebanese territory, I do so both because the Security Council called upon Israel in 1978 to withdraw forthwith and has repeated that call in many subsequent resolutions, and also because I believe that such withdrawal offers the best prospect of restoring security to the benefit of both countries.
24. I and my staff have repeatedly expressed to the Government of Israel the view that its continued military presence, combined with the behaviour of its SLA allies, would inevitably provoke a reaction from the inhabitants of southern Lebanon and cause them to take up arms in resistance against IDF and SLA. The resulting violence would be exploited by those armed groups who, unlike the Lebanese Government and the vast majority of the inhabitants of southern Lebanon, want southern Lebanon to be used for attacks against Israel itself. This process has already begun and could, if the situation is not rectified, lead to a level of violence that could grow beyond UNIFIL's ability to control and of which UNIFIL itself could even become a victim.
25. Deployment of UNIFIL to the international border may not bring about an instant end to all violence in southern Lebanon. But once deployed on the border, UNIFIL would be in a position to fulfil its mandate of restoring international peace and security, which would require an end to all hostile acts across the border. In performing that mandate UNIFIL might incur the hostility of those who wanted to carry out such acts but it would enjoy the support of almost all the inhabitants of southern Lebanon and of the Lebanese Government, whose authority would gradually he restored in the area. The dangerous ambiguity in the Force's present situation would he removed. I am more than ever convinced that this is the only effective way of arresting the steady deterioration in southern Lebanon.
26. The Security Council continues to face the dilemma described in my last report. On the one hand, withdrawal of UNIFIL would have disastrous consequences for international peace and security and for the inhabitants of southern Lebanon. On the other, Israel's continuing military presence prevents the Force from carrying out its original mandate and creates tensions in the area that result in its personnel being exposed to serious danger. It remains my view that every effort should continue to be made to persuade the Government of Israel to resume the process of withdrawing its forces completely from Lebanon, in accordance with the resolutions of the Security Council. I and my staff remain ready to discuss with the Governments of Israel and Lebanon how this objective can be achieved. Although, as I have pointed out above, this will be a difficult and complicated process, I believe that it is of great importance that substantial progress should have been made before the current mandate of the Force expires on 19 January 1987.
27. During the last weeks I have been able to discuss UNIFIL's situation with ministers from all the Governments that contribute troops to the Force. I have been heartened by the steadfastness of their commitment to UNIFIL despite its inability to carry out its mandate to the full and despite the dangers and the financial problems it faces. I again pay unstinted tribute to them.