|UNIFIL, Lebanese Army hold joint maneuvers in South to boost cooperation
|Members of the Lebanese Army and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) carried out a joint maneuver in and around the Shebaa Farms on Tuesday in an effort to promote cooperation between the two forces as envisioned in UN Security Council Resolution 1701.
Resolution 1701, drafted during the 2006 war with Israel, ended the 34 days of hostilities and obliged all parties concerned to respect the international "Blue Line" separating Lebanon from Israel. The resolution also called for tactical cooperation between UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces.
Entitled "East Gate," the joint maneuver, which was the first of its kind, included members of the French, Belgian, Spanish, Indian, Chinese and Indonesian contingents as well as certain Lebanese Army personnel.
During the collaborative effort, troops, accompanied by a UNIFIL helicopter and a Chinese medical team, moved from Blat to Marjayoun to Arquob and finally to the Shebaa Farms area. The movements were monitored by Lebanese Army and UNIFIL officers.
The military exercise, which began at 9 a.m., was divided into two parts. During the first part of the exercise troops were led through an exhibition on the way wounded soldiers should be transported following certain kinds of attacks. In the simulation, soldiers with less severe wounds were transported to their contingent's respective bases, while the seriously wounded were taken to a field hospital belonging to the Spanish troops in Blat.
The second part of the exercise consisted of a staged attack on a mock-terror group. In the assault, Lebanese soldiers, dressed in civilian clothing with covered faces, performed an assault on two homes in which the mock-terrorists were hiding. Concurrent with the assault, Spanish troops practiced isolating the area.
In the simulated clashes between the mock-terrorists and the Lebanese soldiers, some terrorists were "killed" and the others were "captured."
The joint military exercise was a preparatory response to recent terrorist attacks against UNIFIL. In June, a car bombing killed six peacekeepers from the Spanish contingent. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
In a statement following the maneuver, Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Dalmaw, of the Spanish contingent, underlined "UNIFIL's role in spreading security and stability in the southern region in collaboration with the Lebanese Army, and in accordance with UN Resolution 1701."
Jews worldwide hold vigil for abducted troops
Jewish communities worldwide held prayer vigils for Israel's three abducted soldiers Tuesday evening as part of a World Solidarity Day, slated to be the largest solidarity event for the three to date, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Tuesday.
The daily added that dozens of solidarity demonstrations for Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev and Gilad Shalit are planned around the world as part of this special event.
Thousands of students in the US, Chile, Venezuela, the Netherlands, France, Ukraine, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Uruguay held rallies. Goldwasser's wife Karnit spoke in a live broadcast from Jewish Agency headquarters in Jerusalem.
Corporal Gilad Shalit was snatched from his army base near Gaza in a cross-border attack by Palestinian militants in June 2006.
Less than a month later, reservists Goldwasser and Regev were captured by Hizbullah fighters as they patrolled the Israeli side of the frontier with Lebanon.
The Daily Star