woensdag 4 augustus 2010

Just Journalism praat met IDF en UNIFIL over grensgevechten Israel - Libanon

 
Hieronder o.a. informatie van het Israelische leger, nagenoeg afwezig in het NOS journaal en andere media. Overigens bevestigt ook UNIFIL dat het hek dat Israel langs de grens heeft gebouwd en de 'blue line', de internationaal erkende grens tussen Israel en Libanon, niet overal geheel parallel lopen, en daar soms een paar meter tussen zit. Israel opereerde inderdaad net buiten het hek maar wel binnen Israelisch grondgebied. Ook vreemd (en genegeerd in de meeste mediaberichten) is dat de Libanezen niet op de soldaten die de boom rooiden vuurden, maar op daar in de buurt staande officieren. Dit wordt bevestigd door het feit dat aan Israelische zijde een officier werd gedood en een commandant zwaar gewond raakte.
 
RP
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Just Journalism Update - 3 August 2010
 
Lebanon border clashes: Just Journalism speaks to IDF and UNIFIL
 
Tuesday afternoon has seen a violent conflagration on the Israel-Lebanon border, the most serious since the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah. Initial reports suggested several casualties and at the time of this writing, one Israeli soldier, and at least three Lebanese soldiers and a Lebanese journalist, are confirmed to have been killed.

International reporting has revealed conflicting claims as to what triggered the incident, with Israel claiming that its soldiers were conducting routine maintenance work - removing shrubbery - on its side of the Blue Line, the border between Israel and Lebanon as demarcated by UN Resolution 1701, which certified the end of the 2006 hostilities.  Israel also maintains that it worked in conjunction with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the peacekeeping force permanently deployed along the Lebanese border. The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) counter-claimed that Israeli troops entered sovereign Lebanese territory.

One of the questions as to what happened today centres on a photograph that shows an Israeli-operated crane reaching beyond the fence that physically divides Israel from Lebanon but that does not necessarily demarcate the border between the two nations - a claim substantiated by both IDF and UNIFIL spokespersons in conversation with Just Journalism Executive Director Michael Weiss this afternoon.

Lt Col Avital Leibovich of the IDF told Just Journalism in a conference call consisting of bloggers and journalists:

'The incident itself took place on Israeli territory, in some places along the northern border. There is some gap between the border fence itself and the actual border. Our troops were conducting routine maintenance work that included, among other things, clearing bushes from that area.

'In 2006, we had some soldiers that were kidnapped in a similar area [where shrubbery provided cover for kidnappers]. This maintenance job was coordinated with UNIFIL. It was routine, there was nothing unique. The LAF decided in a very provocative manner to initiate fire toward our forces. This is a strict and clear violation of UN Resolution 1701. We retaliated with artillery and helicopter fire, now we are checking at the deeper, intelligence level if it was pre-planned attack from the Lebanese army. We put the responsibility on the Lebanese Armed Forces.'

Leibovich also said that while there is some evidence that Hezbollah has infiltrated the ranks of the LAF, she could not at this point state with certainty if the Islamist party had any hand in today's violence.

When asked about the LAF's claim that its forces first fired into the air, then at Israeli troops, Leibovich responded that it was not the Israeli maintenance crew itself that was first targeted by gunfire, but rather a gathering of senior IDF commanders who were standing nearby, a clear sign, she maintained, of a Lebanese 'provocation'.

Andrea Tenenti, deputy spokesperson for UNIFIL, told Just Journalism that while 'all activities' that take place along the Blue Line have to be coordinated with UNIFIL, he could not at this stage confirm whether this particular maintenance work had been.

'What we are trying to do is ascertain the circumstances of the incident and why it occurred. We have a lot of activities that we coordinate with both parties along the Blue Line. Concerning this specific activity [Israel's maintenance operation], we have to check if that's the case.'

However, Tenenti did agree that along the Blue Line there are gaps between Israel's border fence and the actual, UN-mandated border:

'It's a particular area where sometimes the Blue Line and the technical fence meet, and sometimes where there are metres in between. We are trying to demarcate the Blue Line with blue barrels to try to make sure we don't have any crossings.'

 
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