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Rabin Says U.N. Forces Sparked Border Squabble

Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin blamed the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon Wednesday for recent tension between the Israel Defense Force and the international peacekeeping troops.

“There is a lack of understanding on the part of the Norwegian UNIFIL unit concerning its role,” charged Rabin. “UNIFIL cannot interfere with the IDF’s freedom of movement.”

Rabin, on a visit to the region, was referring to an incident Tuesday in which UNIFIL troops blocked Israeli military vehicles from entering the village of Ebel e-Saki, where the Norwegian battalion has its headquarters.

Israeli troops used a Merkava tank to bulldoze their way through the roadblock. They later barred UNIFIL personnel from crossing the Lebanon-Israel border for 15 hours Tuesday and Wednesday.

The United Nations criticized the border closing Wednesday, saying that restricting the freedom of movement of the UNIFIL forces was an “unacceptable action.”

In New York, a spokesman for Israel’s U.N. mission responded to the U.N.’s criticism by saying disputes between Israel and UNIFIL troops should be resolved on the ground, between commanders, “and not by going to the press with accusations and name-calling.”

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