Army, UNIFIL replace Blue Line markers


MARJAYOUN: Lebanese Army units worked alongside UN peacekeepers on Tuesday to re-plant markers designating the Blue Line that were destroyed during last summer's war with Israel.


(13.02.2007)

Members of the Swiss, Hungarian and Chinese contingents of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) worked participated in the work to erect fallen markings in the towns of Marjayoun, Aita al-Shaab and Yaroun.

The Blue Line, which demarcates the border between Israel and Lebanon, was drawn in 2000 after Israel withdrew from almost all Lebanese territories.

Sections of the Blue Line, marked by large blue plates mounted on posts, were removed or damaged over the summer, creating confusion over its exact location.

A security report said that the army and UN peacekeepers faced a "dodgy" task on Tuesday, since the Blue Line crosses large sections of land sewn with land mines and cluster bombs from earlier conflicts between the two countries.

"In reality, the army and UNIFIL forces are performing a dual task, whereby whole chunks of land are cleared of land mines and other unexploded munitions before attempting to restore borderline markings," the report said. www.dailystar.com.lb

It added that fallen markers would have to be re-erected throughout an area stretching from the town of Naqoura in the west to the town of Majidieh in the southeast.

The role of the army was to "double-check" that UNIFIL peacekeepers had indeed placed the Blue Line markers "exactly" where they were originally planted in 2000.

The army issued a statement on Monday saying that the Blue Line would "in no way be moved or changed," in response to accusations by a Hizbullah MP over the weekend that the UN-demarcated line was being moved in Israel's favor.

MP Hassan Fadlallah said on Saturday that "any attempt to re-demarcate the Blue Line might result in some Lebanese territory being lost."

The reinstallation of the markings comes 24 hours after a tripartite meeting of representatives from UNIFIL and the Lebanese and Israeli armies to discuss last week's exchange of fire between Lebanese and Israeli troops along the border.

The incident last Wednesday began when an Israeli bulldozer crossed the border fence near the village of Maroun al-Ras.

Von: 14.02.2007, http://www.dailystar.com.lb, by Mohammed Zaatari

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