UNITED NATIONS. ATTACK ON SPANISH TROOPS STRENGTHENS BOND WITH LEBANESE

 

ATTACK ON SPANISH TROOPS STRENGTHENS BOND WITH LEBANESE

15 July 2007

An attack on UNIFIL Spanish battalion aimed at creating a split between its soldiers and the local population. It proved counter-productive. There is now a closer bond.

Inhabitants of Southern Lebanon mourned the six dead Spaniards as their own children. They were dubbed "martyrs" in defense of the land. Everyone joined to determine the identity of the perpetrators. Spain, which has two intelligence units stationed in Lebanon (one anti-terrorist, the other army), was supported by Lebanon's army intelligence, Hezbollah operations and national security forces. Unlike the densely populated areas, mainly Shiites in the western or central sectors, the point where the booby-trapped car was placed is difficult to monitor; closer to Israeli border, mixed population of Sunni, Shiite and Christian. The choice of a Sunday may have been deliberate; it is more difficult to monitor with so many visitors. A general conclusion is that a fringe militant group was seeking to infiltrate the area and draw attention to its potential spoiler role. It is non-Lebanese. Some outsiders operating on behalf of other outsiders. The outcome is more vigilance not only by UNIFIL but by villagers. More commitments were made by local parties to consolidate UNIFIL's task and more confirmations were made by UNIFIL troops to stay the course. Successive visits by Defense Ministers of participating countries were no coincidence. Spain and the Lebanese have now bonded through a joint cause and a common sacrifice.