UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is expected to recommend Monday that the rules of engagement of the enhanced UNIFIL force to be deployed in Lebanon include opening fire on Hizbullah where necessary, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
While UN Security Council Resolution 1701 mandated an enhanced UNIFIL force to help the Lebanese Army deploy south and along the border with Syria, it did not spell out the operational procedures of this force.
The question of the rules of engagement was addressed last Thursday in New York at a meeting of those countries considering sending troops to the force, with some of those countries opposed to being able to open fire, concerned that Hizbullah would then shoot back.
Nevertheless, reports reaching Jerusalem Sunday indicated that Annan, in interim suggestions that are expected to be presented Monday, would give UNIFIL clear authorization to open fire.
"This is to date the most explicit expression of the upgrade to the UNIFIL force that has yet been received," one senior diplomatic official said.
Nevertheless, even if the UNIFIL forces had authorization to open fire, whether they would indeed do so and subject themselves to a firefight with Hizbullah is questionable. Officials in the Prime Minister's Office reserved judgment, saying they wanted to see the recommendation before responding.
Any takers on when the UNIFIL decides to reinterpret its authorization to start shooting at Israel unprovoked instead?
Source: Jerusalem Post