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BBC's UN correspondent Mark Devenport
"Security situation remains calm in Lebanon"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 27 June, 2000, 02:20 GMT 03:20 UK
UN demands end to Israeli 'violations'
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The United Nations Security Council has called on Israel to end violations of its newly-established border with Lebanon.

The peacekeeping force in Lebanon, Unifil, reported several Israeli border violations on Monday, backing Lebanese government claims.

The Security Council call followed a briefing by video link with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who has been on a long tour of the Middle East.

But current council president Jean-David Levitte of France stressed that the violations were minor and expressed hope they would be cleared up in a few days.


We all agreed in the Security Council that these violations should be corrected as soon as possible

Security Council president Jean-David Levitte
Since the Israeli army's withdrawal from southern Lebanon last month after its 22-year occupation, the Lebanese Government has repeatedly accused Israeli troops of violating the UN line.

This was drawn as a temporary border between the two nations.

Verification

Israeli soldier
An Israeli soldier guards the border gate near Metullah
There have also been several border incidents, with Lebanese demonstrators taunting Israeli soldiers and pelting them with stones.

Ten days ago, the United Nations said it had verified that Israel had completely withdrawn from Lebanese territory.

It has now sided with the Lebanese Government, saying that

  • the Israeli army is still using patrol roads cutting into Lebanese territory
  • Israeli soldiers were seen in trenches on the Lebanese side of the border
  • three Israeli machine gun posts and some observation equipment are still in Lebanon
"Most of them are very limited violations," said Ambassador Levitte. "I guess they will be corrected in the coming hours and days."

Israel invaded Lebanon in 1978 and occupied part of southern Lebanon as a buffer against guerrilla attacks on northern Israel from 1985 until its withdrawal on 24 May.

UN waiting to deploy

The 4,500-strong UN peacekeeping force in the region is supposed to deploy to the border area to help settle tensions.

Hezbollah leader Nasrallah is a welcome guest now at Lebanese President Lahoud's residence
Hezbollah's leader is a welcome guest at Lebanese President Lahoud's residence
At the moment, the Hezbollah guerrilla movement is dominant in the area, after its long campaign against Israeli forces.

Mr Levitte said the Lebanese Government wanted to be sure there were no more violations of the withdrawal line before giving "a green light" for deployment of the force.

The Security Council hopes "it's a matter of hours or days at most" before the force, which is expected to increase to 5,600 next month, can be deployed, he said.

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See also:

15 Jun 00 | Middle East
Israeli apology for border shooting
20 Jun 00 | Middle East
Annan meets guerrilla chief
26 Jun 00 | Middle East
Hezbollah 'abducted 20 civilians'
19 Jun 00 | Middle East
Lebanon demands more withdrawals
24 Jun 00 | Middle East
Jordan protests at Lebanon shooting
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