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Israel Masses Forces On Lebanon Border --> Israeli artillery firing into Lebanon today (epa) July 21, 2006 -- Israel massed troops and tanks on its border with Lebanon today after warning residents of southern Lebanon to leave the area immediately.

Israel also ordered thousands of reserve soldiers to report for duty -- a mobilization widely seen as preparation for a possible Israeli ground invasion of Lebanon.

Israeli artillery fired periodic volleys at Hizballah positions in Lebanon today while Israeli planes continued air strikes.

Correspondents say Israeli tanks, armored bulldozers, and jeeps on the border were largely idle in the early evening today.

Lebanese Defense Minister Elias al-Murr says his country's army is ready to defend against any invasion.

"I can assure you that the Lebanese Army will defend the land as soon and as well as we can," al-Murr said. "We will defend our land until the last soldier."

Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz has warned that Israel could launch a full-scale ground invasion of Lebanon, if necessary, to crush Hizballah fighters there.

(AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)

UN Peacekeepers
UN peacekeepers in Haiti in February 2006 (AFP)

MISSION In cases in which international intervention in regional conflicts is deemed necessary, peacekeeping missions authorized by the UN Security Council provide legitimacy by demonstrating the commitment of the international community to address such crises.

MANDATE UN peacekeeping missions are prepared, managed, and directed by the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations. The unique mandates of peacekeeping missions falls under the authority of the UN's Security Council and General Assembly, and under the command of the UN secretary-general.

MONEY Funding for UN peacekeeping missions is provided by UN member states. All are legally obliged to pay a share under an established formula. The leading financial providers as of 2006 were: the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Canada, Spain, China, and the Netherlands.

MORE All UN peacekeeping missions share the goals of alleviating human suffering and creating conditions for self-sustaining peace. Missions can consist of armed or unarmed military components, depending on their mandate, and various civilian tasks.

Military operations can include:
· Deploying to prevent the outbreak of conflict or the spillover of conflict across borders;
· Stabilizing conflict situations after a cease-fire in order to create an environment for the parties to reach a lasting peace agreement;
· Assisting in implementing comprehensive peace agreements;
· Leading states or territories through a transition to stable government, based on democratic principles, good governance, and economic development.

HISTORY There have been 60 peacekeeping operations since 1948. Fifteen peacekeeping missions were in operation in mid-2006, employing more than 60,000 troops, 7,000 police, and over 2,500 military observers. Peacekeeping operations in 2006 were supported by uniformed personnel provided by 109 countries.

(source: UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations)


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