There was an interesting report on Israel's Channel 2 Television News last night. In the report, an embedded Israeli journalist accompanied an IDF reconnaissance unit across the border into Lebanon. The troops did not encounter any resistance or Hizbullah fighters. Their mission was to destroy an elaborate Hizbullah tunnel that had been located earlier. Before mining the tunnel and blowing it up, the troops gave the reporter a tour. The footage I saw showed a very sophisticated tunnel with a ventilation system, concrete-lined walls, provisions, explosives and ammunition. The commander of the unit remarked, with more than a hint of sarcasm, that is was "amazing what can be achieved in six years" (the time that has passed since the Israeli withdrawal). The reporter followed the soldiers, who were under pressure to finish their mission soon because of the fear of mines or an attack by Hizbullah, through the tunnel and to another exit. As they emerged from the other exit, the cameraman panned the surrounding area. Looming no more than 100 metres behind the tunnel exit was a tall, white UNIFIL observation post.
Can one blame Israelis for being suspicious of UNIFIL and for not trusting the European troops that are now being deployed in Lebanon? This was the same force that stood idly by and looked on as Hizbullah prepared to kidnap IDF soldiers in 2000 and then ambushed them. As of now, there is no reason to believe that the Franco-Italian led force will be any more effective. They don't even have clearly defined goals and it is clear that the French and Italian leaders lack the political will to involve their forces in more dangerous missions that might bring them into confrontation with Hizbullah.