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|Saturday, June 02, 2001, updated at 10:43(GMT+8)|
UN Official Confirms Israeli Violation of Lebanese TerritoryA senior United Nations official in Beirut on Friday confirmed Israeli violation of the U.N.-drawn Blue Line and the Lebanese territory, and promised to correct it, Lebanon's official NNA news agency reported.
During a meeting with Lebanese Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammoud, Steffan de Mistura, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's personal representative in south Lebanon, stressed the inviolability of the Blue Line.
The U.N. drew the line to authenticate the completeness of Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon in May 2000.
Mistura said that the U.N. peacekeeping force recently observed the Ghajar village on the eastern side of the Blue Line with helicopters and found that Israeli troops violated the Blue Line and intruded into the Lebanese territory by about 20 meters.
The U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) confirmed on Thursday that Israeli troops have established an observation post, north of the Blue Line, in the village.
"The sand-bagged observation post was erected 20 meters into the Lebanese territory and overlooks Lebanon's Hasbani River," a UNIFIL spokesman said.
The Ghajar village is split by the Blue line, with two-thirds falling inside lebanon and the rest in the disputed Shebaa Farms.
Lebanon and Syria insist that the 200-square-kilometer farms belong to Lebanon, while the U.N. and Israel regard it as Syria's land that Israel occupied in the 1967 Mideast War and its fate should be resolved within the Syrian-Israeli peace talks.
Following protests by Ghajar's residents, the Israeli troops have so far agreed to refrain from running border fence through the middle of the village.
But the Israeli army believes that the absence of a fence in Ghajar poses a security risk. Israel tried to circumvent this dilemma in January by swinging the new fence around the northern tip of Ghajar on Lebanese territory.
Finally, Israel was forced to abandon the plan after the violation was protested by Lebanon and the U.N.
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