Lebanon Seeks to
Soften UN Criticism of its Activity on Israeli Border
In an effort to curb
criticism of their government, officials in Lebanon are attempting to
persuade United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to tone down his
criticism of their actions on the southern border with Israel, HA'ARETZ
reported. The UN levelled heavy criticism in its latest report on southern
Lebanon, which was recently submitted to the Security Council.
The report was issued against the background of Hizbullah attacks on Israel's
northern border and calls or the reduction of UNIFIL from its current
regiment of 3,628 soldiers to approximately 2,000 by the end of the year.
In the report, Annan criticizes both Hizbullah's stated commitment to
perpetrating attacks on Israel and the Lebanese government's refusal to
deploy in the area, in violation of Security Council resolutions. The
report also stated that no document has been found to support Lebanon's
claim to the Shaba Farms region, whose "redemption from Israeli occupation"
is the official pretext for Hizbullah's continuing attacks. In addition,
it sharply criticized Hizbullah's arrest and beating of three UNIFIL soldiers
Regarding Hezbollah's provocations along the border, the report noted
that between March 30 and April 31, Hezbollah fired 28 Katyusha rockets,
1,246 mortar shells, 152 antitank missiles and 11 ground-to-air missiles
at Israel. In contrast, Annan wrote, Israel confined its responses to
the areas from which Hizbullah was operating