Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

20 Tammuz 5761 - July 11, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Neutral Observers Who Work for One Side

Eight months ago, three Israeli soldiers were kidnapped in the area of the Shebaa Farms near the Lebanese border. The soldiers were on the Israeli side of the border drawn by the United Nations, which supervised the new boundary between Israel and Lebanon. The kidnapping originated on the Lebanese side of the border and was completely unprovoked. It took place about 300 meters from a UN observation post and in full view of that post.

Just what is the UN observation post supposed to observe?

The UN soldiers are supposed to make sure that neither the Israeli side nor the Lebanese side (which in practice means Hizbullah since Lebanon has refused to take control of the area) violates the peace.

Israel has no offensive intentions in the area. Its only aim is to protect its citizens. Hizbullah, on the other hand, has proclaimed its intention to attack Israel and has gone about its preparations to do so in full view of the UN observers, who have done nothing to stop the preparations or even the attacks that have taken place so far.

Public information about the kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers is sketchy. Israeli army officials say that there was no violation of army regulations or field rules.

Some reports said that the Hizbullah attackers gave the appearance of being UN soldiers, and thereby won the confidence of the Israeli soldiers until it was too late for them to prevent their own capture. There are some reports, as yet unconfirmed, that UN troops may have even played some active role in the abduction. If any of these are true, it is very serious. Since the attack took place in full view of the UN observers, their failure to alert the Israelis of the subterfuge makes them tacit accomplices to the act, and not just passive observers who should have been more active.

Now it has been revealed, after eight months of denials, that the UN has a 25 minute video taken only hours after the kidnapping, showing UN workers recovering vehicles used in the kidnapping and Hizbullah terrorists. Especially since Hizbullah has so far refused to give out any details of the condition of the soldiers since their kidnapping (in contrast to the prevailing expectation which is that the kidnappers supply some definite, unequivocal signs showing that the hostages are still alive), such footage could provide solace to the families of the hostages about the fate of their loved ones.

Not only has the United Nations failed to prevent the preparations and activities of Hizbullah, nor taken any steps to stop crimes such as the kidnapping, it now seems that they failed to turn over information that could help solve it.

This incident has important lessons for the perennial demand of Yasser Arafat to install international observers throughout the territories who would make sure that "both sides" keep the peace.

From bitter experience, international observers are liable to exhibit a terrible bias towards the Palestinian side. Certainly in this incident, the UN as a whole has come out looking bad, even if those at its highest echelons were not aware of the existence of the video cassette.

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