UN's Ban: Threat to the lives of abducted IDF troops increasing
- UN's Ban: Threat to the lives of abducted IDF troops increasing
By Yoav Stern and Shlomo Shamir, Haaretz Correspondents Last update - 04:53
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern for the lives
of the two Israeli soldiers abducted in Lebanon last summer.
Unfortunately, the situation is aggravated by Hezbollah's persistent refusal
to provide a proof of life. Worries about the fate of the two soldiers are
therefore increasing. "I share deeply the anxiety of the families and call
again on Hezbollah to reconsider this posture, which contradicts basic
humanitarian values," Ban wrote in a report the Security Council on Friday.
Ban also warned of expected difficulties in the continued practical
implementation of Resolution 1701. The report is a periodic assessment of
the implementation of the resolution passed on August 11, 2006, which ended
the war between Israel and Hezbollah.
Talks between Israel and Hezbollah are proceeding through a German
intelligence agent appointed by the previous UN secretary-general Kofi
The report implies that Iran and Syria continue to send the latest weaponry
to Hezbollah, including anti-tank missiles and aircraft.
"The secretary-general is using harsh words with regard to Iran and Syria,"
a senior diplomatic source in New York said Friday. "It can be concluded
that the report is in part an indictment of the two countries that have been
exposed as being involved in activity whose goal is the destabilization of
Lebanon. If Iran and Syria continue their subversive activities, they will
be the downfall of Resolution 1701," the official added
"I am deeply concerned that Lebanon remains in the midst of a debilitating
political crisis and faces ongoing attacks aimed at destabilizing and
undermining its sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. Against
this background, I am concerned that continued implementation of resolution
1701  may face repeated difficulties," Ban wrote.
According to Israel, Ban wrote in the report, the arms being smuggled from
Syria to Lebanon include missiles with a range of 250 kilometers, "enabling
Hezbollah to rearm to the same levels as before last year's war or beyond."
Ban also noted that he has received new information from the Lebanese
government on weapons smuggling via the Syrian border.
"The government of Lebanon has informed me that on June 6, 2007, four truck
carriers, each carrying two vehicles mounted with 40-barrel rocket launchers
[a total of eight rocket launchers] were seen by the Lebanese Army heading
from Al-Kafeer in the Syrian Arab Republic across the Syrian-Lebanese border
to Idriss Fortress and then on to a PFLP-GC [Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine General Command] outpost in Jabal al-Maaysara," the
Ban also noted that UNIFIL (the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon)
reported "a significant increase in Israeli air violations, through jet and
unmanned aerial vehicle overflights of Lebanese territory."
The secretary-general also harshly criticized Israel on the matter of
cluster bombs. According to the report, over 900 cluster-bomb sites have
been identified, 50 of them in recent months. Ban expressed his regret that
"despite a number of attempts by UN senior officials to obtain information
regarding the firing data of cluster munitions utilized during last summer's
conflict, Israel has yet to provide this critical data."
With regard to the June 24 killing of six Spanish UNIFIL peacekeepers, the
report stated that "once the investigation into the June 24 attack is
concluded, security arrangements will be further adjusted if and as
necessary to mitigate the potential for future such incidents." Ban called
the Katyusha attacks on Kiryat Shmona in mid-June "deeply troubling."
Ban also wrote that, "In addition to the valuable assistance being provided
by the German pilot project along the northern border and their proposals
for Lebanese integrated border management, further international assistance
is urgently required to enhance Lebanese capabilities and to ensure that
there are no breaches of the arms embargo."
Ban also reported that a "senior cartographer" had made "solid progress
toward a provisional determination of the geographic extent of the Shaba
Farms area" and that this individual would be visiting Israel within the
next few weeks. In about three months, a report is to be submitted on the
matter of the disputed lands on Mount Dov near the meeting point of the
Israel-Syrian and Lebanese borders on the slope of Mount Hermon.