United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon


In 1970, the resident PLO attempted to destabilize and take over Jordan. King Hussein of Jordan decided that enough was enough and forced PLO out of his country in what was to become known amongst PLO as "Black September". A year earlier, Lebanese president Charles Helou had struck a deal with the PLO, effectively granting them political and military privileges within the Lebanese borders. The end result was that a large number of PLO fighters established themselves in Lebanon, recruiting and training fighters for the battle against Israel in the country's many palestinian refugee camps.

On March 11, 1978 a successful PLO commando raid against Israel triggered the "Litani River Operation" - the March 14 retaliatory invasion of southern Lebanon. In a matter of days, IDF had occupied most of the southern parts of the country.

On March 15, 1978, the government of Lebanon submitted a protest to the United Nations Security Council where they stated in rather strong words that they had nothing to do with the March 11 commando raid. On March 19 the UN Security Council adopted resolutions 425 and 426 in which Israel were called upon to withdraw all of its forces from Lebanese territory. Together with the resolutions, a decision on deploying a peacekeeping force was made. On March 23, 1978 the first UNIFIL troops arrived in south Lebanon, from the Syrian border in the east to the mediterranean coast in the west.

On June 6, 1982, Israel invaded again, this time reaching the outskirts of Beirut. The following three years, UNIFIL remained behind the Israeli lines, providing protection and humanitarian assistance to the local population. In 1985, IDF conducted a sham withdrawal, leaving local militia (SLA/DFF) in control of a security zone stretching from the Israeli border roughly north to the Litani river. This move left the Norwegian battalion (later Indian) area of operations completely inside Israel occupied territory.

In April 2000, the United Nations received a formal notification from Israeli authorities that they intended to withdraw from Lebanon completely. In the next couple of months, a line of demarcation - the Blue Line - were painstakingly put in place by UNIFIL, formally separating Israel and Lebanon for the first time since 1978.

The mandate

The mandate of UNIFIL is specified by security council resolutions 425 and 426 and is:
  • To confirm withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanon;
  • To restore international peace and security;
  • To assist the Government of Lebanon in re-establishing its authority in the area.

Countries that have participated

Not all of these countries currently have a troop commitment to UNIFIL.

Force commanders

This list is neither complete nor in chronological order.

UNIFIL currently consists of 1,994 troops supported by local and international civilian staff and 50 UNTSO observers. Between 1978 and 2002 UNIFIL had suffered 245 casualties; 104 by accidents, 83 by acts of hostility and 57 of other reasons. After the Israeli withdrawal in June 2000, the number of UNIFIL troops have been cut down somewhat, despite the fact that their area of operation have increased. UNIFIL's main task after the Israeli withdrawal and compliance with security council resolution 425, is to patrol the Israel-Lebanon border together with the Lebanese authorities.

"Jours de Colere, Liban 77-82", Joseph G. Chami, Arabic Press Agency.
Please /msg me with corrections, additions and comments.
Thanks to ariels for pointing out a rather glaring mistake about the 1978 invasion.

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