Israel is expected to air complaints on UNIFIL’s performance in Lebanon with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner in Jerusalem this week, diplomatic officials said Tuesday. France has 2,000 troops in the UNIFIL mission. Despite the UNIFIL peacekeepers in southern Lebanon, thousands of rockets have been smuggled south of the Litani River, according to the officials. Hizbullah is no longer operating in the open areas, but rather inside the villages, and UNIFIL cannot go into the villages without first getting the approval of the Lebanese army, something that drastically reduces its effectiveness.
The anti-Hizbullah Shi’ite mufti of Tyre, Ali al-Amin, told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera on Saturday:
“Peace mission? You must be kidding. I will tell you what UNIFIL troops in southern Lebanon are. They are tourists, simple, faint-hearted and ignorant tourists … UNIFIL forces pretend not to see anything.”