What was the UNIFIL scandal involving Hezbollah and the UN force?
The UN Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has been stationed between Israel and Lebanon since 1978, but violence continues. Despite UNIFIL?s presence, PLO terrorists operating from southern Lebanon routinely carried out terrorist operations in northern Israel until 1982 when Israel invaded Lebanon and eliminated the PLO. Subsequently, UNIFIL failed to interfere with or prevent Hezbollah from bombarding the residents of northern Israel with Katyusha rockets during Israel?s 20-year presence in the Southern Lebanon security zone. Israeli counterstrikes often caught UNIFIL in the middle and some UNIFIL personnel were killed or injured.
Even since Israel’s full withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, UNIFIL has made no effort to thwart attacks against Israelis by Hezbollah terrorists. On October 7, 2000 three IDF soldiers were abducted by Hesbollah near a UNIFIL position, an event that was witnessed by UNIFIL personnel who may have even been involved. They were abducted while patroling the southern (Israeli) side of the Israeli-Lebanese border. UNIFIL’s impartiality has been called into question since allegations have surfaced concerning the possible bribery of UNIFIL personnel facilitating the kidnapping and by the refusal of UN personnel to cooperate in the Israeli investigation of the kidnapping.
Several videotapes and numerous photographs were made at the time of the kidnapping event, and afterward when the vehicles used by Hezbollah were discovered abandoned. Israel demanded access to the tapes and photos but UNIFIL, and UN Headquarters in New York, denied their existence for over a year until forced to admit at least some of the materials were in UN possession. Only heavily edited versions were eventually turned over to Israel, indicating a cover-up was still operating in the matter, probably to protect UNIFIL personnel who were involved or who were negligent in their duties. An Indian member of UNIFIL gave an interview to an Israeli newspaper in which he said that four Indian members of UNIFIL helped Hezbollah carry out the abduction.
Israel continues to demand unedited tapes from the UN. Hezbollah issued a statement that they will treat the UN personnel as spies if the tape is turned over to Israel. The fate of the abducted soldiers (and others kidnapped by Hezbollah) remains unknown.