United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon

United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon
قوة الأمم المتحدة المؤقتة في لبنان

UNIFIL Deployment as of August 2011
Abbreviation UNIFIL
Formation 19 March 1978
Type Peacekeeping Mission
Legal status Active
Major General Michael Beary (Irish Army)
Parent organization
United Nations Security Council
Website unifil.unmissions.org

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Arabic: قوة الأمم المتحدة المؤقتة في لبنان), or UNIFIL (يونيفيل) and also known as the UN, was originally created by the United Nations, with the adoption of Security Council Resolution 425 and 426 on 19 March 1978, to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon which Israel had invaded five days prior, restore international peace and security, and help the Government of Lebanon restore its effective authority in the area.[1]

The mandate had to be adjusted twice, due to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000.

Following the 2006 Lebanon War, the United Nations Security Council enhanced UNIFIL and decided that in addition to the original mandate, it would, among other things, monitor the cessation of hostilities; accompany and support the Lebanese Armed Forces as they deploy throughout the south of Lebanon; and extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons.

The first UNIFIL troops were deployed in the area on 23 March 1978; these troops were reassigned from other UN peacekeeping operations in the area (namely the United Nations Emergency Force and the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force Zone).[1]

During the occupation, UNIFIL's function was mainly to provide humanitarian aid.[2]

UNIFIL's mandate is renewed by United Nations Security Council annually. Current mandate expires on 31 August 2017.


Dutch UNIFIL base, 1981
A Finnish XA-180 in the UNIFIL operation in Lebanon
Saad Haddad (right) in a conversation with Norwegian Norbatt IV field priest major Ole Askvig Øgaard and other Norwegian UNIFIL personnel in a hotel in the Israeli town of Metula.
Fijian soldiers visiting UNIFIL OP during a patrol

UNIFIL is tasked with achieving the following objectives:

Mandating resolutions by the United Nations:

Lebanese Civil War (until 1990)

Prior to the 1982 Lebanon War, on 2 January 1982 two Ghanaian soldiers guarding a UNIFIL position were attacked by unidentified persons and one of the soldiers was shot and subsequently died.[6] During the 1982 Lebanon War, UN positions were overrun, primarily by the SLA forces under Saad Haddad. This was the Lebanese paramilitary force supported by the IDF in Southern Lebanon.[2]

Beginning in 1985, Israel scaled back its permanent positions in Lebanon, although this process was punctuated by brief invasions and bombings, as in Operation Accountability in 1993 and Operation Grapes of Wrath in 1996. In 1999, Israel undertook a withdrawal, which concluded in 2000 and enabled UNIFIL to resume its military tasks.

Post-2006 war operations


UNIFIL is currently deployed in Southern Lebanon (south of the Litani River) and primarily along the United Nations-drawn Blue Line, which is the border between Israel and Lebanon. The force's activities have centered around monitoring military activity between Hezbollah and the Israeli Defense Forces with the aim of reducing tensions and allaying tension along the border. UNIFIL has also played an important role in clearing landmines, assisting displaced persons and providing humanitarian assistance to civilians in the underdeveloped region of Southern Lebanon. Under UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which passed as a result of the 2006 Lebanon War, its mandate and rules of engagement changed. The mandate changed to allow up to 15,000 personnel in order to assist the Lebanese Armed Forces in deploying in Southern Lebanon to implement the Lebanese government's sovereignty. The rules of engagement changed to allow the troops to open fire in certain cases: mostly in cases of self-defense but also in order to protect civilians, UN personnel and facilities.[7] The new resolution states that UNIFIL can “take all the necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces, and as it deems with its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind.”[8] On 27 August 2006, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that UNIFIL would not intercept arms shipments from Syria, unless requested to do so by Lebanon.[9]

Maritime Task Force

The Maritime Task Force (MTF) is the naval component of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). As of February 2012, the MTF is under the command of Rear Admiral Wagner Lopes de Moraes Zamith of Brazil.[10] The Brazilian frigate Constituição is the flagship of the fleet comprising vessels from Brazil, Bangladesh, Germany, Greece, Indonesia and Turkey.[10] After the 2006 Lebanon War, the UNIFIL Maritime Task Force (MTF) was established to assist the Lebanese Naval Forces in preventing the smuggling of illegal shipments in general and armament shipments in particular. With its establishment in October 2006, the force was led by the German Navy which was also the major contributor to the force.[11] The Germans lead the MTF up until 29 February 2008 when they passed control over to EUROMARFOR – a force made up of ships from Portugal, Spain, Italy and France (of which the latter three countries sent vessels to the force in Lebanon).[12][13]


C.I.S.S. humanitarian staff with Italian UNIFIL soldiers in Lebanon
UNIFIL Sisu Pasi in the snow, close to the Israeli border in South-Lebanon, 1998

As of 30 April 2008, UNIFIL employs 12,341 military personnel, supported by some 307 international civilian and 606 local civilian staff[14] and it is headed by Spanish Force Commander Major-General Alberto Asarta.[15]

To date UNIFIL has suffered 272 fatalities: 261 troops, two military observers, five international civilian staff, and four local staff.[15]

Concerns over presence and neutrality

Israeli concerns

Israel has criticized the force for, amongst other things, maintaining a dialogue with Hezbollah, which it views as a terrorist organization, for treating Israeli and Hezbollah violations of security council resolution 1701 equally, while Israel views its violations of Lebanese airspace as less severe than Hezbollah's violations including crossings of the blue line and rocket launchings, namely because Israel and its primary allies in the west consider Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization and not a legitimate political party, and, as a result of this, declare all armed Hezbollah actions to be terroristic. UNIFIL was accused of complicity in the fatal abduction of IDF soldiers in October 2000, and Israel further blamed it for obstructing its investigation by denying the existence of and then once the existence was leaked, refusing to supply videos of the attack for several months.[16][17]

Prior to the July 2006 Lebanon War, Israel had been lobbying for UNIFIL to either take a more active role vis-a-vis Hezbollah (for example, preventing Hezbollah from stationing near UNIFIL posts to fire at the IDF and into northern Israel) or to step out of the region (thereby voiding the Lebanese government’s excuse for not deploying Lebanese Armed Forces along the border).[18]

UNIFIL also came under criticism during the 2006 Lebanon War for broadcasting detailed reports of Israeli troop movements, numbers, and positions on their website which "could have exposed Israeli soldiers to grave danger", while making no such reports about Hezbollah. UNIFIL's actions could have been motivated by the fact that Israel was, as a response to Hezbollah rocket fire (which Hezbollah alleges to have been a reaction to Israeli "border violations") and to the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers, conducting a ground invasion of Lebanon at that time. Israel was concerned when it was reported that Indonesia was being considered to replace Italy as commander of UNIFIL's naval force. As Indonesia does not recognize Israel, and the two countries have no diplomatic or military relations, Israel expressed concern that cooperation with the IDF, especially the Israeli Navy, could deteriorate.[19]

A 2010 book published by Norwegian journalist Odd Karsten Tveit revealed that the Norwegian Army was complicit in the escape of two Lebanese men who were arrested by the Israeli Army and being held in Khiam prison. According to the book, in 1992, two detained Lebanese men escaped from Khiam prison. Fearing that they would face torture or execution if caught by the Israel Defense Forces or South Lebanon Army, the soldiers dressed the detainees in UN uniforms, and placed them in a UNIFIL convoy which left Southern Lebanon through Israeli roadblocks. Shortly afterward, Israeli Army commander Moshe Tamir visited the Norwegian battalion's camp, and accused Norwegian commander Hagrup Haukland of "sheltering terrorists". Immediately after the confrontation, the Lebanese men were smuggled onto a bus used by Norwegian peacekeepers on leave, which took them to Beirut.[20]

Hezbollah concerns

Hezbollah supporters have accused UNIFIL of siding with Israel, especially since the passage of Resolution 1701 which they view as one-sided. On 16 October 2006, Lebanon's top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah declared that the UN force had “come to protect Israel, not Lebanon”,[21] echoing the sentiment of the leader of Hezbollah - Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, who previously said “They are ashamed of us, brothers and sisters. They are ashamed of saying they came to defend us, but they talk about defending Israel.”[22]

Conflict in 2006

According to UNIFIL press releases, there have been dozens of such incidents of UN posts coming under fire during the 2006 Lebanon War.[23] In his 21 July 2006 report about the UNIFIL activities 21 January-18 July 2006, the UN Secretary-General stated that "Some Hezbollah positions remained in close proximity to United Nations positions, especially in the Hula area, posing a significant security risk to United Nations personnel and equipment."[24]

Italian UN soldiers arriving in Lebanon, 2006
Italian UN soldier on guard duty


Following the cease-fire, the UNIFIL will receive vast reinforcement, up to 15,000 men, and heavy equipment. France is committed to increase her complement from 400 to 2,000 men and send Leclerc heavy tanks and AMX 30 AuF1 self-propelled artillery,[30] in addition to the forces deployed in Opération Baliste. Italy will send 3,000 troops.[31] Qatar will send between 200 and 300 troops.[32]

A naval component of UNIFIL was set up to assist the Lebanese Navy preventing arms proliferation to Hezbollah. This force is under the command of a German admiral with the majority of vessels being provided by the German Navy.

The Indonesian contingent received 12 VAB (Véhicule de l'Avant Blindé) on 17 February 2007, as the part of the second wave of shipment from the agreement between the French and Indonesian governments. Amongst the equipments sent with the second wave of VABs are 10 tool boxes (pioneering equipment), 10 armored vehicle radio communications unit, HMG (Heavy Machine Gun) shooter shield, and 40 water jerrycans.[33]

On 16 March 2009, KRI Diponegoro, a Sigma class corvette joined UNIFIL Naval Task Force.

On 13 April 2010, the Indonesian Contingent received 13 Pindad Anoa APCs for UNIFIL service.

Confrontations with Israel

On 22 September 2006, French Air Force jets were seen over the skies of Beirut during Hassan Nasrallah's victory speech, possibly trying to protect him from an Israeli assassination attempt. Nasrallah told the crowd that he had no fear in addressing the masses directly, rather than through armored glass. In September 2006, Hezbollah fighters raided an Israeli arms depot in Shomera, and made off with a large quantity of sidearms, grenades, anti-tank weapons, and LAU rockets. Five Israeli Merkava tanks, an armored bulldozer, and a number of military vehicles entered Lebanon and attempted to search the Hezbollah-controlled village of Marwahin for the arms. They were confronted by four French Army Leclerc tanks, which blocked their advance. The confrontation lasted for half an hour. According to American and German correspondents, the French retreated, while the French commander claimed that the Israelis had turned back.[34] French commander of UNIFIL Alain Pellegrini stated that France would not intervene to disarm Hezbollah.

Following the war, Hezbollah was widely reported to be rearming with the help of Iran and Syria, which were reportedly smuggling weaponry and munitions into Lebanon to replenish Hezbollah's depleted stocks.[35] Israel accused UNIFIL of failing to prevent Hezbollah's rearmament and thus failing to implement Resolution 1701. The Israeli Air Force began flying reconnaissance sorties over Lebanon to monitor Hezbollah's rearmament, with Israel announcing they would continue until Resolution 1701 was fully implemented. This led to repeated confrontations with UNIFIL.[36]

On 3 October 2006, an Israeli fighter jet penetrated the 2-nautical-mile (3.7 km) defense perimeter of the French Navy frigate Courbet without answering radio calls, triggering a diplomatic incident. Israel apologized after official protests from the French government.[37][38]

On 24 October, six Israeli Air Force F-16 jets flew over the German Navy intelligence ship Alster, patrolling off Israel's coast just south of the Lebanese border. The German Defense Ministry said that the planes had given off infrared decoys and one of the aircraft had fired two shots into the air, which had not been specifically aimed. The Israeli military said that a German helicopter took off from the vessel without having coordinated this with Israel, and denied vehemently having fired any shots at the vessel and said "as of now" it also had no knowledge of the jets launching flares over it. Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz telephoned his German counterpart Franz Josef Jung to clarify that 'Israel has no intention to carry out any aggressive actions' against the German peacekeeping forces in Lebanon, who are there as part of UNIFIL to enforce an arms embargo against Hezbollah'. Germany confirmed the consultations, and that both sides were interested in maintaining good cooperation.[39][40][41] The Alster's crew had recorded several overflights by Israeli jets in the previous weeks, but claimed that the Israeli aircraft had always stayed at high altitude. The week before the incident, Israeli jets had confronted a German naval helicopter, but turned back after the Germans identified themselves.[42]

Shortly after the war, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, reporting to the Security Council, stated that there were no serious incidents or confrontations, but that peacekeepers reported Israeli flyovers "almost on a daily basis".[43] UNIFIL commander Alain Pellegrini claimed that Israeli flyovers violated the cease-fire and Lebanese sovereignty, and warned that if the diplomatic efforts to stop the overflights failed, force might be used to stop them. Israeli military sources reported that Israel would bomb UNIFIL positions if Israeli aircraft were attacked.[44][45] On 23 October, sources in the Israeli defense establishment said that intelligence gathered by the sorties had revealed that Hezbollah was rebuilding its military infrastructure. Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz told the cabinet that surveillance flights over Lebanon would continue in light of the fact that arms smuggling between Syria and Lebanon continued.[46]

On 31 October 2006, eight Israeli F-15s flew over many areas of Lebanon, including Beirut.[47][48] The jets also flew over a French position in Lebanon. According to the French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, the planes came in at what was interpreted as an attack formation, and the peacekeepers were "two seconds away" from firing at the jets with an anti-aircraft missile.[49][50]

On 6 September, during a European Union meeting in Brussels, the French Defense Minister announced that the Israeli Air Force had stopped mock air attacks over UNIFIL positions. On 17 November, two Israeli F-15s overflew UN positions at low altitude and high speed while two reconnaissance planes circled the headquarters of the French battalion. French peacekeepers responded by readying their anti-aircraft batteries, and warned that Israeli warplanes conducting mock attacks could be fired on.[51]

The IAF continued its reconnaissance flights over Lebanon, and despite strong protests, UNIFIL peacekeeping forces did not follow through on their threats to fire at Israeli aircraft. The Lebanese government reported hundreds of overflights by Israeli aircraft, and also claimed that Israeli troops had illegally crossed the border dozens of times, including into the disputed Shebaa farms area.[52]

Post-conflict situation

On 24 June 2007, six UNIFIL soldiers (three Colombians and three Spanish) were killed after their vehicle was hit by an explosive device; two others (both Spanish) were injured in the incident.[53] No group has yet admitted responsibility. The Israeli military believed the attack to be the work of al-Qaeda/Global Jihad members.[54]

The Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Ambassador Dan Gillerman, met with UNIFIL commander, Maj.-Gen. Claudio Graziano, on 15 August 2008, after Israel was accused of unilaterally violating United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 by the almost daily overflights of Lebanese airspace, the continued occupation of the village of Ghajar and Israel's refusal to submit maps of areas on which it dropped cluster munitions during the 2006 Lebanese war.[55]

Following the war, British military historian John Keegan predicted that Israel would in the future invade Lebanon and continue attacking until Hezbollah's system of tunnels and bunkers was completely destroyed, as Israel would not tolerate a "zone of invulnerability" occupied by a sworn enemy, or a double threat posed by Hezbollah and Hamas rockets, and that Israel might first attack the Gaza Strip. Keegan noted that any IDF entry into Southern Lebanon would risk provoking a clash with UNIFIL, but that it is unlikely to deter Israel, as it tends to behave with "extreme ruthlessness" when national survival is at stake.[56]

In 2010, a series of standoffs and clashes erupted between UNIFIL troops and Lebanese villagers in the border region. Villagers accused French peacekeepers of provocative and intrusive patrols, and of taking pictures of people inside their homes. People of Aitaroun town, Marjayoun, accused the French regiments of driving their heavy vehicles through their two-month-old tobacco fields, which support many families. UNIFIL was also accused of having stepped up its patrols and of failing to coordinate with the Lebanese Army. In July 2010, the most serious incident occurred when the French regiments decided to carry out exercises unilaterally, without Lebanese units or other regiments. When they went into narrow alleys of Lebanese villages some residents first tried to redirect them out of their private areas. The French fired against the civilians, also arrested a youth driving a motorcycle and destroyed the vehicle. When other civilians saw that, they surrounded and attacked the UNIFIL French troops and without any weapons. The vehicles windows were also smashed by stones from dozens of civilians of all ages, and the French commander was wounded. The French troops were forcibly disarmed by the villagers, and weapons were then handed over to the Lebanese Army. The French unit could not explain why they behaved unilaterally. Their ambassador to the UN said the civilian attack 'was not spontaneous'. Many troops, including the Finnish, Irish, Qataris and Indonesians pulled out of the UNIFIL back in 2007–2008. One reason quoted as some were there for over 30 years (the Irish and Finnish) because of fear of change of the rules of engagement by the NATO forces joining after August 2006 and because of German and French high level statements expressing unlimited support to the Israeli side. At the request of the United Nations, 7,000 additional Lebanese soldiers were deployed to South Lebanon as approved by the Lebanese Cabinet.

Irish Army soldier peacekeepers during an inspection while serving with UNIFUL on September 19, 2013. Ireland has suffered the most casualties in the UNIFUL since 1978 with over 30,000 Irish soldiers serving within the ranks over a period of 23 years.

UNIFIL force in 2010 Israel–Lebanon border clash

The 2010 Israel–Lebanon border clash occurred on 3 August 2010, this clashes marked the deadliest incident along the border since the devastating 2006 Lebanon War. The U.N. force stationed in southern Lebanon urged "maximum restraint" following the clashes along the so-called Blue Line, a U.N.-drawn border separating Lebanon from Israel. UNIFIL peacekeepers were in the area where the clashes took place.[57] United Nations peacekeepers tried to hold off the routine Israeli tree-pruning that led to a deadly border clash with Lebanese soldiers. An Indonesian U.N. battalion was on the scene, and they did their best to try to prevent it, but they were unable to.[58]

Indonesian peacekeepers tried to no avail to calm the situation before the clashes erupted. However, the fighting were increasingly intensified, so this small contingent of UNIFIL forces were ordered to retreat or find cover then report back to the base. The Indonesian contingent, under intense gunfire and shelling between the two opposing forces, retreated and returned to their base, but two soldiers accidentally separated from the main group and got trapped in the situation. The stunned and exhausted soldiers were helped by some locals.[59]

UN peacekeepers did not escape the confrontation unscathed. Local TV reported that in some cases, villagers attempted to block UNIFIL vehicles from fleeing the combat zone, demanding that they return and fight. However, current and former UNIFIL officials said that at that point in the conflict, it was out of peacekeepers’ hands. One of former UNIFIL official also explained that he has been in these situations before, and when the opposing sides is determined to shoot each other, there’s nothing UNIFIL force can do. There is also another statement from a former UNIFIL commander concerning about UNIFIL action to preserve neutrality for both sides, he stated that if UNIFIL force intervene to protect IDF, for instance, UNIFIL will be accused by Hezbollah or the people of protecting the Israelis, and collaborating with the enemy. On the other side, if UNIFIL force do the same with the Lebanese, Israel will accuse UNIFIL of collaborating with Hezbollah.[60]

Contributing countries

As of 30 June 2013, the total number of personnel in the mission is 9,859:[61]

Country Troops Support Roles
 Armenia 33[62]
 Austria 127
 Bangladesh[63] 326 The Bangladesh Navy has one Mod. Type 053H class FF(G) and one Sea Dragon class OPV as part of the Maritime Task Force. From 14 June 2014 they will be replaced by Type 053H2 class FF(G) and Durjoy Class LPC.[64][65]
 Belarus[66] 5 The Belarus Contingent consist of one surgical team and staff officer in UNIFIL
 Belgium[67][68] 105 de-miners, medical and reconstruction teams 1 Karel Doorman class frigate
 Brazil[10] 280 Marine Task Force (MTF) commander, Brazilian Navy 1 frigate "Liberal" (current flagship)
 Brunei[69][70] 30
 Cambodia 139
 China[71][72] 343 200 engineers currently in Lebanon clearing mines and unexploded ordnance, medical team, peacekeeping troops
 Croatia 1
 Cyprus 2
 El Salvador 52
 Estonia[73] 40
 Finland[74][75] 175
 France[76][77] 868 The French Army has 13 Leclerc heavy tanks in Lebanon [78] in charge of UNIFIL ground forces until February 2007. France also continuously deploys part of their peace keeping operations rotations of French Paratroopers.[79][80]
In addition, French Navy ships with 1,700 sailors are deployed off Lebanon in Opération Baliste, and assisting in UNIFIL operations.
 Germany[81][82] 181 naval ships to secure the Lebanese coast and prevent arms smuggling
 Ghana 871
 Greece[83] 51 Elli-class frigate, the HS Kanaris, to patrol against arms smugglers
 Guatemala 2
 Hungary 4 topographers
 India[84] 899 01 x Standard Infantry Battalion of the Indian Army (Regulars), along with support components from the Corps of Engineers (Sappers), Corps of Signals and other logistic Arms and Services
 Indonesia[85][86][87] 1288 850 men in mechanized infantry battalion, 75 men in military police unit, 200 men in force protection company, 11 men UNIFIL staff, 111 men aboard KRI Diponegoro (Sigma class corvette of the Indonesian Navy)
 Ireland[75][88][89] 210 The Irish Army suffered the most casualties (47 fatalities) in UNIFIL followed by Fiji and France since 1978; contributing over 30,000 soldier peacekeepers over a period of 23 years.
 Italy[90][91] 1104 ground troops; assumed charge of UNIFIL ground forces in February 2007
 Kenya 1
 Macedonia 1
 Malaysia 877 Administrative(200) and patrol/quick reaction team (160; including commandos and special forces). Also includes a small Brunei unit.
 Malta 1
 Mexico 2
   Nepal[92] 864 infantry battalion
 Nigeria 1
 Qatar[93] 3 the only Arab nation to contribute to UNIFIL, deployed 205 soldiers to Lebanon in 2007. They mostly provided humanitarian assistance, and three logistics officers worked at UNIFIL headquarters
 Serbia[94] 177 8 staff officers, 5 national support element and 164 infantry
 Sierra Leone 3
 Slovenia 14 3 Staff Officers, 8 men strong Recon element, 3 men strong Logistical element (as of November 2007)
 Spain[95][96][97] 589 de-mining and beach cleaning,mechanized infantry battalion(1 infantry platoon from El Salvador), cavalry squadron, combat engineers, helicopter unit
 Sri Lanka[98] 151 Mechanized infantry company with combat support personal and vehicles
 South Korea 321 They are keeping the peace in the Lebanon area by Policing, Medical Assistance and Cultural Exchange
 Tanzania 139
 Turkey[99][100] 304 engineering unit to help rebuild damaged bridges and roads; Turkish naval frigate patrolling off the Lebanese coast

Former contributors

Forces Support Roles Ref
 Bulgaria 160 1 Wielingen Class Frigate [101]
 Denmark 204 2 patrol boats as force protection for German contingent and 144 logistic soldiers, and 10 firefighters from the Danish Emergency Management Agency [102][103]
 Fiji 306 2 Infantry Battalions led by Sitiveni Rabuka [104]
 Netherlands 150 1 Karel Doorman class frigate [68]
 Norway 21 236 Infantry battalion NORBATT, engineering unit Normaintcoy, rotary wing force Norair, medical unit Normedcoy, and naval ships to secure the Lebanese coast and prevent arms smuggling [68][105][106][107]
 Portugal 140 engineering unit [108]
 Russia 400 engineers [82][109]
 Slovakia 6 medical team
 Sweden 40 1 Göteborg class corvette [102][110]


Alain Pellegrini alleged that UN reports on Lebanon were reaching Israeli intelligence.[111]

UNIFIL was heavily criticized after villagers claiming two UNIFIL soldiers from Indonesia fleeing the battleground in a taxi.


The Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) were created when the United Nations invited the newly independent Fiji to send troops to serve in UNIFIL. The experience gained in Lebanon has enabled the RFMF to stage 4 coups d’état (1987, 1999–2000, 2006, and 2009) and to govern Fiji in a military dictatorship for over two decades.[112]


UNIFIL has been criticised for being unable to stop the Israeli destruction of civilian buildings and intimidation of civilians during the 2006 invasion, as evidenced by the many destroyed buildings in South Lebanon, still not rebuilt by 2011. A former Israeli diplomat, Itamar Rabinovich, criticised the efficacy of the force saying "UNIFIL, I'm afraid, is a joke. They’ve been there for 26 years and since then, there have been so many skirmishes [along the border]."[113] Prime Minister Ehud Olmert also said "We didn’t like very much UNIFIL which was very useless and very helpless. Look what happened. Did you hear of any particular efforts of the United Nations UNIFIL force in the south of Lebanon to prevent the attacks against Israel in the first place. So they were not useful and that is why we were unhappy with them."[114]

Both Israel and Hezbollah have accused UNIFIL of bias. Israel again accused them of failing to prevent, and even collaborating with, Hezbollah in its replenishment of military power. Hezbollah, in turn, said "certain contingents" of UNIFIL are spying for, if not assisting, Israel.[115]

South Lebanese reception

In the summer of 2010, relations soured between the French contingent and residents in several villages that led to injuries on both sides, after a French regiment began an exercise in order to identify Hezbollah members that included searching homes, taking photographs, using sniffer dogs, and questioning residents. Residents accused them of violating private property, treating them with contempt, and of not coordinating with the Lebanese army. The residents made clear that their conflict was only with the French contingent, and that relations with other contingents were good. Following discussions between UNIFIL commanders, ambassadors of countries with soldiers in UNIFIL, and the commander of the Lebanese army, an agreement was reached under which sniffer dogs would no longer be used, UNIFIL soldiers would refrain from entering Lebanese homes and yards, and only Lebanese army soldiers would carry out searches of homes.[115][116]

Generally, however, relations between UNIFIL and local residents have been good. UNIFIL forces have offered various services to the locals, and have introduced elements of their own culture. India's UNIFIL contingent has carried out small-scale development projects, operates medical and dental clinics, veterinary care for local animals, and also runs entertainment camps for children and yoga classes.[117][118] The Indonesian UNIFIL contingent (INDOBATT) also gained good reputation among the South Lebanese people, and this is achieved through the Civil Military Coordination (CIMIC) program implemented by the contingent. This program includes many society-based activities, such as conducting computer course for local residents, medical assistance and also technical assistance in rebuilding social facilities.[119][120][121][122][123][124] The French contingent has taught poetry courses to local Francophone residents as well as French vocabulary and grammar to primary school students in 15 schools, the Italian contingent has given cooking lessons, the South Korean contingent has taught Taekwondo, and the Chinese contingent has taught Tai chi.[125][126]


The entrance to the UN base where four UN peacekeepers were killed during the conflict

UNIFIL's fatalities, which number over 250, include the following nationalities:

  • Bangladesh: 1,
  • Belgium: 4,
  • Denmark 1,
  • El Salvador 1,
  • Fiji: 35,
  • Finland: 11,
  • France: 37,
  • Ghana: 31,

  • India: 5,
  • Indonesia 2,
  • Iran: 1,
  • Ireland: 47,
  • Italy: 7,
  • Lebanon: 7,

  • Malaysia: 3,
  • Nepal: 28,
  • Netherlands: 9,
  • Nigeria: 10,
  • Norway: 21,

  • Philippines: 1,
  • Poland: 7,
  • Senegal: 16,
  • Spain: 12,
  • Sri Lanka 1,
  • Sweden: 7,

  • Turkey 1,
  • United Kingdom: 4.

Date Incident
29 March 1978: A Swedish soldier, Karl-Oscar Johansson was killed as he drove on a landmine, was thrown from the car and died at Khardala Bridge.[127]
31 May 1999: An Irish soldier, Pte. William Kedian was killed when IDF/DFF mortar fire hit a UNIFIL position.
July–August 2006: A total of five UN peacekeepers and staff members are killed by Israeli air and artillery strikes targeting their positions.[128]
25 September 2006: A French engineer officer was killed in a road accident near the town of Sofar.
9 March 2007: Three Belgian soldiers were killed in an armoured vehicle accident.
24 June 2007: Three Colombian and three Spanish soldiers were killed in a bomb blast between Marjayoun and Khiam.
25 July 2007: A French soldier was killed near the village of Shama while clearing unexploded munitions.
11 October 2007: A British man, Craig Appleby (36) was killed while clearing munitions near Bint Jbeil.
12 November 2007: Two French soldiers were wounded as a result of the accidental discharge of a weapon. One of the wounded men subsequently died while being evacuated to Hospital.
15 June 2008: A Spanish soldier was killed and two injured in a road accident.
3 September 2008:A Belgian soldier was killed near the village of Aitaroun while clearing munitions left over from the 2006 conflict.
27 May 2011: 6 Italian soldiers were wounded when their VM-90 military truck was destroyed by a roadside bomb near Sidon.[129]


Compensation for tortious injury

A verdict of Trondheim District Court in 2006 resulted in Norway's government being ordered to pay compensation for tortious injury that Knut Braa acquired as a UNIFIL soldier — Norwegian kroner 1 215 374.[130]


A 2004 Easter mass in South Lebanon by the French UNIFIL contingent


Commanders of the force

Start Date End Date Name Country
March 1978 February 1981 Emmanuel A. Erskine  Ghana
February 1981 May 1986 William O'Callaghan  Ireland
June 1986 June 1988 Gustav Hägglund  Finland
July 1988 February 1993 Lars-Eric Wahlgren  Sweden
February 1993 February 1995 Trond Furuhovde  Norway
April 1995 1 October 1997 Stanislaw Franciszek Wozniak  Poland
February 1997 September 1999 Jioje Konousi Koronte  Fiji
30 September 1999 1 December 1999 James Sreenan  Ireland
16 November 1999 15 May 2001 Seth Kofi Obeng  Ghana
15 May 17 August 2001 Ganesan Athmanathan  India
17 August 2001 17 February 2004 Lalit Mohan Tewari  India
17 February 2004 2 February 2007 Alain Pellegrini  France
2 February 2007 28 January 2010 Claudio Graziano[132]  Italy
28 January 2010 28 January 2012 Alberto Asarta Cuevas  Spain
28 January 2012 24 July 2014 Paolo Serra[133]  Italy
24 July 2014 24 July 2016 Luciano Portolano[133]  Italy
24 July 2016 Present Michael Beary[134]  Ireland

Deputy Commanders of the Force

Start Date End Date Name Country
4 May 2008 2 January 2009 Major General Apurba Bardalai  India

Commanders of the Maritime Task Force

Start Date End Date Name Country
September 2006 16 October 2006 Giuseppe De Giorgi  Italy
16 October 2006 March 2007 Andreas Krause  Germany
March 2007 September 2007 Karl-Wilhelm Bollow  Germany
September 2007 February 2008 Christian Luther  Germany
February 2008 August 2008[135] Ruggiero di Biase  Italy
September 2008 February 2009 Jean-Louis Kerignard[136]  France
March 2009 May 2009 Jean-Thierry Pynoo[137]  Belgium
August 2009 August 2009 Ruggiero Di Biase[138]  Italy
September 2009 November 2009 Jürgen Mannhardt[139]  Germany
December 2009 February 2011 Paolo Sandalli[139]  Italy
February 2011 February 2012 Luiz Henrique Caroli  Brazil
February 2012 February 2013 Wagner Lopes de Moraes Zamith  Brazil
February 2013 February 2014 Joese de Andrade Bandeira Leandro  Brazil
February 2014 February 2015 Walter eduardo Bombarda  Brazil
February 2015 February 2016 Flavio Macedo Brasil  Brazil
February 2016 Present Claudio Henrique Mello de Almeida  Brazil

Personal representatives of the Secretary-General for Southern Lebanon

Start Date End Date Name Country
March 1978 ? Jean Cuq  France
2000 15 January 2001 Rolf Goran Knutsson  Sweden
15 January 2001 April 2005 Staffan de Mistura  Italy
April 2005 Present Geir Pedersen  Norway

See also


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