History of Maritime Interception Operations, Lebanon (2006–Present)

The maritime embargo operations off the coast of Lebanon came into being after the
war of 2006, between Israel and Hezbollah. Israel’s military operations (operation
Change Direction) against Hezbollah in Lebanon started after an incident in which
Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers. A naval blockade was also part of Israel’s
operations. When, on 11 August 2006, the UNSC adopted SC Res. 1701 (2006)
Israel refused to end the blockade until alternative measures were undertaken to
ensure that Hezbollah was not receiving any arms from outside Lebanon. Based on
SC Res. 1701 and in coordination with Lebanon, the UN expanded the longstanding
and land-based UNIFIL operation, which already existed since 1978, with
a maritime dimension: Maritime Taskforce UNIFIL (MTF UNIFIL). It was the first
time that a maritime operation came under command and control of the UN.
The MTF UNIFIL supports the Lebanese authorities in policing its maritime borders
for illegal weapons coming into Lebanon. The mission aims to be concluded
when Lebanon has sufficient capabilities to control its maritime borders. As of 2016, the MTF UNIFIL is still ongoing. In a press release from February 2015, the UN stated that, ‘Since the start of its operations on 15 October 2006, MTF has
hailed around 63,000 ships and referred almost 6,000 suspicious vessels to the
Lebanese authorities for further inspection.’

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