The Indian Army has denied any lapses or wrong-doing on the part of Indian peacekeepers who are part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) after allegations were raised last week by the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations (UN), Gabriela Shalev. In a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, she complained of inaction on the part of the Indian peacekeepers in preventing 15 Lebanese from illegally crossing into Israel and waving Hizbullah flags.
The Jerusalem Post quoted the letter as saying, “[The demonstrators] stood opposite the UNIFIL force, [which did nothing,] and worse than that, according to statements made by the organizers of the demonstration, they even cooperated with them.”
According to sources, the incident relates to post 4-31 in the Kafr Shouba Hills at the Blue Line between Israel and Lebanon near Baathaiil Lake. On June 8 this year, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) had constructed a Tank Firing Position in the vicinity of the post, following which the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) reciprocated and constructed a similar position of their own on June 16.
The Indian peacekeepers belonging to UNIFIL then mediated and got both sides to vacate those positions. But on June 17 at 1100 hours local time, some 30 civilians crossed the Blue Line from Lebanon, five of whom planted the Lebanese and Hizbullah flags at the Israeli position.
The Indian contingent, collectively known as INDBATT, then diffused the situation through mediation and got the demonstrators to withdraw. The Indian Army asserts that the actions of the Indian peacekeepers was in conformity with UNIFIL Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). The Indian contribution to UNIFIL consists of three units amounting to a brigade.