BEIRUT: The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) observed on Friday the 32nd anniversary of its peacekeeping presence in the country’s south.
Soldiers representing the 31 different countries making up the force participated in a ceremony attended by UNIFIL and Lebanese Army (LAF) dignitaries. Wreathes were laid by UNIFIL Force Commander Major General Alberto Asarta Cuevas and LAF South Area Commander Brigadier General Maroun Khreish at the UNIFIL cenotaph as a mark of respect to the 284 soldiers who have lost their lives representing the UN in Lebanon.
“We in UNIFIL will never forget the ultimate sacrifice that [peacekeepers] in the cause of peace and their contribution to stability in the region,” Cuevas added.
Speaker Nabih Berri joined Cuevas in remembering the peacekeepers who have fallen in the line of duty.
UNIFIL was created by UN Security Council resolutions 425 and 426 in 1978 to confirm the Israeli military withdrawal from Lebanon. In the wake of Israel’s July-August 2006 war with Hizbullah, the force was beefed up and its mandate enhanced under Resolution 1701. It also began close coordination with the LAF.
Berri said that Lebanon was “fully committed” to relevant UN resolutions and criticized Israel for its continued violations of international law.
“On this occasion … we remind the international community that Israel is still hindering the complete implementation of those two resolutions through the continued occupation of Shebaa Farms, Kfar Shuba hills, and the Lebanese part of Ghajar,” Berri said.
“We urge the UN and especially its permanent members to stop treating Israel as an exception that doesn’t abide by UN resolutions and forcing it to implement Resolution 1701 and halt its threats to use force against Lebanon,” Berri added.