November 03, 2006

Israel: German Navy Will Not Stop Arms Shipments to Hizballah

From Israel: German Navy Will Not Stop Arms Shipments to Hizballah: Israel considers the German navy's peacekeeping mission off the coast of Lebanon to be futile. The Israeli military is unhappy with the principles of the UNIFIL mission - it says they allow arms shipments to Hizballah to continue. The truce in Lebanon is being only formally observed by Beirut, says Eitan Ben-Eliahu, former commander of the Israeli air force, and the Lebanese are allowing Hizballah to rearm. Terje Roed-Larsen, the UN special envoy to Lebanon, joins him in that assessment.

"When a ship carrying weapons for Hizballah leaves a Syrian port and heads south, its captain feels safe as long as he doesn't stray more than 11 kilometers from the coast," says Gad Shimron, an Israeli security expert at the daily Ma'ariv. Dozens of ships and boats travel along the Lebanese coast every day, without the UN troops being informed about their cargo. The Syrian captain can head comfortably for Hizballah positions in Lebanon as if he were shipping a cargo of tomatoes or olives, and the German navy isn't allowed to interfere with his journey.

Originally, the Germans thought they would have freedom of movement as well as the right to board suspicious ships. But those rights were limited in the final draft of the mandate. The Germans must request the Lebanese to interfere with suspicious vessels, and they must register with Lebanese authorities if they plan to travel within six kilometers of the coast.

See also All (Too) Quiet on the Southern Front