IDF Says 90% of S. Lebanon in Hands of UN, Lebanese Army

Though some matters remain unsettled, Israel says is pleased with UN, Lebanese troops' conduct.

The Israel Defense Forces has transferred control of 90% of the territory it held in southern Lebanon to UNIFIL and the Lebanese Army, a senior military source said on Monday night. According to Israeli sources, there are still a number of issues regarding the day-to-day conduct of forces in southern Lebanon that have to be settled before the IDF withdrawal is completed.

Overall, the IDF is pleased with the conduct of both the UN force in Lebanon and the Lebanese Army. Both forces are taking their roles seriously, setting up roadblocks and carrying out searches.

UNIFIL was also quick to respond to Israeli calls regarding the presence of Hezbollah supporters close to the border. For now, the Shi'ite group has ensured that its supporters in southern Lebanon are not seen carrying weapons or wearing combat fatigues.

The Lebanese army has already deployed along the border area on the west, between Nakoura - where UNIFIL is based - and Bint Jbail. IDF forces are still holding positions in the central front.

IDF sources say that there still is a need to set up a mechanism for the sides to deal with emergency situations, if they arise.

Meanwhile an arrangement is emerging over the village of Ghajar, which is divided by the border. Israel will control the southern part of the village - which lies south of the recognized Blue Line (the international border). The northern part of the village will be controlled by UNIFIL, but Israel will continue providing the residents with essential services.

Meanwhile, the IDF is continuing the extensive internal evaluation of the war in Lebanon.

Chief of Staff Dan Halutz held a seminar on the conclusions of the fighting involving Division 162 along the central front.

The operations of the division included some of the most controversial in the war, such as the attack on Wadi Saluki.

During the meetings, serious criticism was voiced regarding the overall performance of the division.

Particular grievances pointed to the slow tempo and halting movement of the forces during the early stages of the fighting, as well as the conduct of the final battles, at Wadi Saluki and the village of Anduriya.

One of the biggest problems that emerged in the probe was the lack of coordination between the armored column moving north and the infantry force in place at Salouki.

Some IDF observers believe the General Staff has already marked out the divisional commanders as those responsible for the failures in the war.

At least four individuals are believed to be in a position to pay the price of failure by not being promoted to higher ranks: Brigadier-Generals Guy Tzur, Gal Hirsch, Erez Zukerman and Eyal Eisenberg. a