The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) reportedly plans to evacuate its wounded troops to Israel if a war breaks out in the region.
The UN peacekeeping force set the plan ten days ago and is to implement it in a joint maneuver with the Israeli army, Naharnet cited a report the Lebanese paper al-Akhbar published on Monday.
The paper said that the Lebanese army contacted UNIFIL command to confirm the news of the maneuver. The military warned that the move would be a negative development and would demonstrate UNIFIL’s siding with Israel.
On August 30, the UN Security Council decided to expand the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon for another year without modifying its rules of engagement.
The UNIFIL was set up in 1978 to monitor the border between Israel and southern Lebanon and was given a wider role after the 2006 war Israel waged against the country.
However, UNIFIL’s inaction towards border conflicts and almost daily violations of Lebanon’s airspace by Israeli warplanes has made it unpopular among people in southern Lebanon.
Early in July, the UN forces had to stop a unilateral maneuver in the wake of mounting protests from people in the region who blocked roads to UNIFIL troops and their armored vehicles.
The angry protesters condemned the peacekeeping forces’ drills which they said were aimed at protecting Israel from possible missile attacks from southern Lebanon.
The country’s popular resistance group Hezbollah also denounced the move as out of ordinary and not in accordance with the mandate of the UNIFIL, whose forces must be accompanied with the Lebanese army soldiers.