5 Dec 2018
UNIFIL’s Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col today chaired a regular Tripartite meeting with senior officers from the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at the UN position in Ras Al Naqoura that included discussions of IDF activities south of the Blue Line to look for suspected tunnels.
The meeting, which had been scheduled before yesterday’s start of the IDF’s operation on its northern front, provided a forum to present and discuss issues related to the ongoing IDF activities to ensure that the overall calm prevails in the weeks ahead.
“I emphasize the critical role of our liaison and coordination mechanisms in mitigating tensions through continuous communication, at the heart of which is the Tripartite forum,” said Major General Del Col, encouraging both sides in using the mechanisms to “avoid misunderstandings and ensure that security and stability along the Blue Line is maintained and reinforced.”
UNIFIL’s Head of Mission and Force Commander again stressed the “importance of ensuring that UNIFIL has full access to all locations along the Blue Line,” while also appealing for the support of the parties in reducing the “high level of rhetoric.” At the meeting, it was also agreed that UNIFIL would send a technical team to Israel on 6 December to ascertain the facts.
Discussions also focused on other issues related to cooperation of the parties in carrying out mandated tasks under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 (2006) and the related resolutions of 2433 (2018) and 2373 (2017), as well as air and ground violations.
In what was scheduled as the last regular Tripartite meeting of 2018, Major General Del Col also called on the parties to refrain from any unilateral action that could negatively affect the situation. “In 2019, UNIFIL will continue to support all efforts to defuse tensions through dialogue and pursue all opportunities for confidence-building,” he said. “All sides should be aware of the potential for a relatively minor incident to rapidly escalate into something more serious with unintended consequences.” The parties to the tripartite meeting reaffirmed their commitment to Resolution 1701, and to continued stability along the Blue Line.
Tripartite meetings have been held regularly under the auspices of UNIFIL since the end of the 2006 war in south Lebanon. They have become an essential conflict management and confidence building mechanism between the parties.
UNIFIL currently has around 10,500 peacekeepers who carry out some 14,500 operational activities monthly, by day and night, south of the Litani River. The mission also has more than 800 civilian staff. UNIFIL is complemented by a six-vessel Maritime Task Force.