none.gif (43 bytes)mer_header02.gif (882 bytes)
August 2000 - Current Index Complete Index This Month     MiddleEast.Org 8/09/00
News, Information, & Analysis That Governments, Interest Groups, and the Corporate Media Don't Want You To Know! 
      If YOU Don't Get MER, YOU Just Don't Get It! 
 To receive MER regularly email to INFOMER@MiddleEast.Org




 "Just as we withdrew to the last millimeter, the Lebanese
 army needs to ensure security until the last millimeter
 of the border.  They need to do exactly what the Jordanian
 army does, for example, prevent hostile guerrilla activity
 from Lebanon so there won't be such a presence on the border."
    Ephraim Sneh, Israel's Deputy Defense Minister

 "Historians will enjoy this little scenario; how the
 Lebanese deployed the UN as a frontier force to live
 next to the Israelis... The UN's lot is not a happy one."
    Robert Fisk, Journalist

MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - 8/9/00:
   With the U.N. and the Lebanese Army now essentially beginning to guard Israel's border with Lebanon, the Israelis are getting their way in that area too, afterall. So much for the Arab "victory" in southern Lebanon.
   Meanwhile Yasser Arafat and secret Israeli envoys are running from one Arab capital to another trying to line up support for what is at the end of the day an American-Israeli dictate to the Palestinians, one which will delivery billions of dollars into the hands of Arafat's cronies and bank accounts, and one which will further buttress the Arab kings and client regimes in power throughout the region.
   The following two articles help explain what is going on at the Lebanese border at the moment, and how the Israelis are getting their way there...further setting the stage for the next steps to dominate the region using the U.S., the U.N., and the Arab regimes to secure their domination:

                            By HUSSEIN DAKROUB

MARJAYOUN, Lebanon (AP - 8/9/00) - A token force of Lebanese security officers moved into the former Israeli-occupied zone on Wednesday, marking the first time the government has asserted control over the border areas of southern Lebanon since the 1970s.

In trucks and jeeps, the 1,000-member force - 500 soldiers from the army's military police and anti-terrorism units as well as 500 policemen - started moving before dawn into areas that had been controlled by guerrillas since Israeli troops withdrew May 24 under guerrilla fire and as its allied militia collapsed.

``We have been waiting for you!'' Antoinette Shahin shouted as the forces passed through the village of Qlaiaa on the outskirts of Marjayoun, the main town in the east. ``We haven't slept all night!''

As the first convoy arrived, Shahin quickly went into her grocery store, grabbed a bag of rice and ran out to spray the troops. Other villagers threw rose petals and passed out baklava.

``There is no substitute for the army,'' said 51-year-old Jamil Jouki as he forced sweets on the soldiers.

In Israel, Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh said Wednesday's limited deployment was not enough.

``Just as we withdrew to the last millimeter, the Lebanese army needs to ensure security until the last millimeter of the border,'' Sneh told army radio Wednesday. ``They need to do exactly what the Jordanian army does, for example, prevent hostile guerrilla activity from Lebanon so there won't be such a presence on the border.''

A Lebanese military police vehicle followed by two trailer trucks carrying armored vehicles crossed the line that used to divide the occupied zone from government-controlled territory at 6:10 a.m., outside the village of Kfar Tibnit. More than 20 other vehicles followed, including a bus carrying policemen who flashed victory signs.

The units moved through narrow mountain roads toward the Christian town of Marjayoun, about five miles north of the Israeli border. Other units entered Bint Jbeil, a Shiite Muslim town in the west, and set up base in a government school.

Two Shiite woman from Bint Jbeil lunged at the troops, attempting to kiss them. Zeinab Abdullah, 55, danced on the street, shouting: ``We missed you.''

Two-thirds of the force set up base in the former Lebanese army barracks in Marjayoun that had served as headquarters of the Israeli-allied South Lebanon Army and the Israeli army's garrison in Lebanon.

``This is a dream that we have been waiting for for 24 years,'' said 55-year-old Hannah Abu Hamad, a widow from Qlaiaa.

The force's arrival would be particularly welcome among Christians, who have been anxious about the Shiite guerrillas taking over their villages, where limited incidents of looting have been reported.

The guerrillas, whose leaders have pledged to cooperate with the government, kept a low profile Wednesday morning, appearing in civilian clothes and without weapons. Hezbollah guerrilla banners were removed from the streets and at least one office was closed.

Qlaiaa and Marjayoun are inhabited by Christians in a largely Shiite Muslim region. Many of the men in the communities were pro-Israeli and they and their families were among about 6,000 Lebanese who fled to Israel just before the troop withdrawal.

The deployment, in a region that makes up 10 percent of Lebanese territory, is small. But it will help fill a vacuum in state authority in the zone that guerrillas have controlled since Israel's withdrawal.

The force marks the first time the Lebanese government has asserted control of the border areas since the mid-1970s. The border region had been a battleground for Palestinian guerrillas and Israeli forces and their allied militias since 1976.

U.N. peacekeepers moved into the former occupied zone Saturday - a step Lebanon had insisted on before its own deployment. But tension in the area continues.

Four people were wounded Sunday and Monday when Israeli soldiers fired at stone-throwers and youths preparing to hurl a firebomb over the border fence near Fatima Gate. Israel has repeatedly called on Lebanon to send its own forces into the south and warned it will no longer tolerate stones being thrown across the border.

Police Brig. Gen. Nazih Abi Nader, the commander of the security force, said his troops would not deploy at Fatima Gate.

``The mission is to set up base, carry out patrols and mobile checkpoints, spread state authority and conduct rapid intervention operations,'' added Abi Nader's assistant, army Col. Youssef Germanos.

Interior Minister Michel Murr had said the job of policing the border fell to U.N. peacekeepers. But Timur Goksel, spokesman for the peacekeepers, has said that Lebanon had not authorized peacekeepers to deploy at Fatima Gate.

Lebanon has said it does not want to serve as Israel's border guard in the absence of a peace treaty between the two countries and between Israel and Syria, the main power broker in Lebanon.

Three guerrillas breakfasted Wednesday at Fatima Gate, where Hezbollah flags fluttered.


                  By Robert Fisk in Yaroun, southern Lebanon

[The Independent, 8 August]
If you want to take a look at the most preposterous military operation in
recent UN history, you have to drive for three miles through a minefield and
the old Israeli border fence, head up an Israeli-built frontier highway to an
Israeli crossroads and turn left.

Just in front, you will observe two Israeli Magash tanks (improved versions
of American M-60s but poorly maintained) and a UN armoured vehicle with a
captain from Limerick standing beside it. He believes he is standing on the
"Blue Line", the original Palestine-Lebanon border. The Israeli soldier three
metres away thinks he is standing on the Israeli frontier. I wonder about the
nature of sanity.

The deployment of more than 700 UN soldiers to the Lebanese-Israeli border
has turned the peace-keepers into a frontier force, cheek-by-jowl, "co-
located" as one of my favourite UN-speaks would have it, with the Israelis.

At BP (Border Post) 18, the Israelis dismantled their old earth berm when an
Irish UN platoon arrived; and the Irish immediately produced an earth-mover
to build another, identical berm at exactly the same spot. The Irish platoon
commander may, if he wishes, speak to Lieutenant Tal, his opposite number in
the Israeli army, by phone. Lieut Tal is actually sitting 20ft from the

Even more incredible, the location of the eight UN positions on the "Blue
Line" (the UN's version of the frontier) appear to have been decided by
senior officers of the Lebanese army rather than by the UN command. Only by,
in effect, taking orders from the Lebanese could the UN prove that the
Israelis had ended their border infringements and persuade the Beirut
government to allow the UN deployment.

A few Fijian, Finnish and Ghanaian platoons have turned up in the territory
from which the Israelis retreated in May but they have no checkpoints and
appear to have only observer status. That, at least, is what Manar television
-- the TV service of the Hizbollah guerrilla army -- has been telling its

The Israelis certainly gobbled up plenty of Lebanese land in their 22 years
in Lebanon. At Yaroun, they clearly thought that the UN and the Lebanese
would not notice they had moved their frontier wire and road 150 metres into

When I turned up there, Israeli engineers were working to build an entirely
"new" Israeli frontier on the southern side of a hill; obviously unprepared
for the UN's arrival (and its 1923 maps), the Israelis had done no planning
to "move" the border fence. They thought they would get away with it.

But cynicism works both ways in southern Lebanon. The Lebanese defence
minister, Michel Murr, has announced the deployment of 700 Lebanese troops to
the south today; but they will not patrol their own frontier. And if the
Lebanese authorities don't want their soldiers on the border, that means the
Syrians don't want them there.

Why not?  To leave the UN to do the dirty work and get the blame if
Palestinian guerrillas in the aftermath of the Camp David collapse try
to cross the Israeli border?  To keep the Lebanese soldiers out of harm's way?
And, if a Palestinian group decides to launch an attack on an Israeli
frontier position, what happens to the UN troops "co-located" there?

At Yaroun, 32 Irish troops eat, sleep and peer through binoculars next to a
platoon of Israeli soldiers, obligingly telling Lieut Tal when they plan to
patrol the "Blue Line".  The line is not really painted blue, as they used to
be in Lebanon, but follows a series of pink posts and little UN flags that
wander through piles of earth and debris up to a hill behind an Israeli
cement factory.  They are based on 38 Anglo-French border posts of which only
six have survived.

"We hope," one of the UN men said grimly, "that anyone who thinks of firing
up here can see the difference between the Israeli flag and the UN flag."

From the Lebanese wadi below, that isn't possible. It took me half an hour to
drive the stone track to the border.  At one point my driver and I had to
gather stones and re-lay the ancient road to keep our car moving where we
were faced with a minefield on each side.  The track in front had been cleared
by Polish UN engineers (in some cases, by hand).

Once we were on the Israeli-made frontier road, its white line and
electrified fencing and Hebrew road signs intact, we were, according to the
UN, still inside Lebanon. Overhead clattered a UN helicopter with Lebanese
officers aboard; checking the Israelis were,really on the southern side of the
"Blue Line".   From most of the wadi, you couldn't see the UN flag, just a
clutch of Israeli radio masts.

Historians will enjoy this little scenario; how the Lebanese deployed the UN
as a frontier force to live next to the Israelis.  Maybe light opera is nearer
the mark. When constabulary duty's to be done, the UN's lot is not a happy

* Israel's Chief Rabbinical Council avoided debate yesterday on a
controversial plan to build a synagogue in Jerusalem near Islam's third
holiest shrine. Instead, a committee will be set up "to examine all the ways
to realise our rights and sovereignty over the Temple Mount". Observers say
the idea is now on the back burner.

The Temple Mount is where Jews believe the first and second biblical temples
stood. It is also, as al-Haram al-Sharif, the Muslim "Noble Sanctuary", which
includes the al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock mosques.

Israel Radio said an unidentified cabinet minister asked the council not to
discuss the proposed synagogue to avoid angering Palestinians during Middle
East peace efforts.

The shrine is in Arab East Jerusalem, claimed by the Palestinians as capital
of a future Palestinian state. Israel, which captured East Jerusal-em in the
1967 war, regards all of the city as its "eternal andindivisible" capital.

Copyright © Mid-East Realities & The Committee On The Middle East.
All rights reserved.  POBox 18367 - Washington, DC 20036.    MER@MiddleEast.Org
Phone (202) 362-5266           Fax (202) 362-6965         http://www.MiddleEast.Org