Lebanon (UNIFIL)

Currently in Lebanon

Uniformed Personnel

10,750

International Civilian Personnel

279

Local Civilian Personnel

590

Mission Mandate

The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was established in 1978 in response to violence on the border between Israel and Lebanon, where members of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) relocated in the 1970s. A major conflict in 1982 was resolved, with UNIFIL providing protection and humanitarian assistance to the local population, to the extent possible. The Israel-Hezbollah War in 2006 necessitated the expansion of UNIFIL, to conduct military observations in addition to their peacekeeping duties.

Background

UNIFIL 1As a result of the Jordanian Civil War, the early 1970s saw a relocation of armed Palestinian groups, most notably the PLO, from Jordan into Lebanon, sharing a border with Israel. Tensions rose along this border due to PLO attacks against northern Israel and Israeli retaliatory strikes. Lebanon protested and the UN Security Council adopted Resolutions 425 and 426. This called for an immediate ceasefire and established UNIFIL to confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces, restore peace and security, and assist the Lebanese government in restoring authority in the border area.
In 1982, violence erupted again after Israel invaded Lebanon, reaching and surrounding Beirut. UNIFIL’s role was limited to only providing civilian protection and humanitarian aid until Israel slowly began to withdraw in 1985. Following this détente, the situation in the area of UNIFIL operations remained generally quiet, but still tense. There were numerous violations of the withdrawal line, known as the “Blue Line”, but most were minor incidents.

“A peaceful, prosperous, and stable Lebanon can make an important contribution to comprehensive peace in the Middle East.”
– US State Department

New hostilities on the border began in July of 2006 when war erupted between the Shiite militant group Hezbollah and Israel. In August, after a ceasefire was reached, the UN decided to expand UNIFIL to conduct military observations and accompany and support the Lebanese armed forces, in order to help prevent a resurgence of conflict along the border.

In August 2010, after a clash between Israeli and Lebanese troops across the Blue Line, UNIFIL played an important role in mediation and peacekeeping. A UNFIL report determined that the cutting down of a tree, which had sparked the conflict, was on the Israeli side of the Blue Line, and that Lebanese snipers had therefore been unjustified in firing on Israeli positions. Since 2010, UNIFIL has continued to help ensure peaceful cross-border relations between the two states.

How This Affects U.S. Interests

For more information, visit the official UNIFIL Website