UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col today chaired a special Tripartite meeting – held in a modified format due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions – with senior officers from the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at a UN position in Ras Al Naqoura.
Discussions focused on the situation along the Blue Line, air and ground violations, as well as other issues within the scope of UNIFIL’s mandate under UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and other relevant resolutions.
In view of several events along and across the Blue Line between 13 and 25 May in violation of Resolution 1701, Major General Del Col stressed the importance of preventing the recurrence of such incidents. He commended the parties for their support to UNIFIL in its efforts to de-escalate tensions.
“With relative calm having returned to the wider region, I hope that we are able to put these latest incidents behind us, learn lessons and keep the stability along the Blue Line,” said the UNIFIL head. “This will require coordinated efforts between us all to intervene when necessary and de-escalate. More importantly, our efforts must be preventative rather than reactive.”
Throughout that period, the UNIFIL Head of Mission was in constant contact with the LAF and IDF leadership to clarify the evolving situation on the ground, while urging maximum restraint and cooperation with UNIFIL to prevent a potential escalation. He also noted that these events are “clear demonstrations” of how fragile the stability along the Blue Line is.
“Both parties responded positively to my calls and worked closely with UNIFIL to contain the volatile situation and I commend them for this,” said Major General Del Col. “Your intent to avoid escalation was amply evident in your actions and I ask that we maintain this approach in addressing Blue Line issues.”
He also lauded the role of UNIFIL’s liaison and coordination mechanism, which afforded the mission the opportunity to engage with the parties to provide up to date situational awareness.
“It allowed UNIFIL and LAF to coordinate deployment to the scene while also allowing UNIFIL to engage with IDF to cease firing and facilitate our response in a timely manner,” he noted.
Major General Del Col sought the full cooperation of the parties to UNIFIL’s ongoing investigations into the incidents.
Since the end of the 2006 war in south Lebanon, regular Tripartite meetings have been held under UNIFIL’s auspices as an essential conflict-management and confidence-building mechanism.