You are here

UN says four staff wounded in south Lebanon blast

By AFP - Mar 31,2024 - Last updated at Mar 31,2024

Women gather around casket of Zaher Bishara, a Druze man from the village of Ein Qiniyya in the Israel-occupied Golan heights, killed in an industrial building when Hizbollah fighters fired a barrage of rockets at Kiryat Shmona from neighbouring south Lebanon, on Wednesday (AFP photo)

BEIRUT — United Nations peacekeepers said three military observers and a translator were wounded on Saturday in a blast in southern Lebanon, where Israel and the Hizbollah movement trade frequent cross-border fire.

Peacekeepers from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) patrol the so-called Blue Line, the border demarcated by the UN in 2000 when Israeli troops pulled out of southern Lebanon.

The UN Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO) supports the peacekeeping mission.

Three UNTSO "military observers and one Lebanese language assistant on a foot patrol along the Blue Line were injured when an explosion occurred near their location", UNIFIL spokesperson Andrea Tenenti said in a statement.

The wounded were "evacuated for medical treatment" and UNIFIL is "investigating the origin of the explosion", Tenenti added.

"Safety and security of UN personnel must be guaranteed," the statement said, urging, "all actors to cease the current heavy exchanges of fire before more people are unnecessarily hurt".

Israel and Lebanon's Iran-backed Hizbollah movement have exchanged near-daily fire since Palestinian militant group Hamas carried out an unprecedented attack on southern Israel on October 7, triggering war in Gaza.

Hizbollah, which has a powerful arsenal of rockets and missiles, says its attacks on Israel are in support of Hamas.

Norway's defence ministry said a Norwegian UN observer was "lightly injured" and had been admitted to hospital.

“The circumstances surrounding the attack are unclear,” defence ministry spokesperson Hanne Olafsen told Norwegian news agency NTB.

UNIFIL’s Tenenti told AFP that the other two observers were from Australia and Chile, adding that all four wounded were in “stable” condition.

Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency said an “enemy [Israeli] drone” raided the Rmeish area of southern Lebanon where the UNTSO observers were wounded.

The Israeli army told AFP in a statement: “We did not strike in the area.”

Tenenti emphasised: “All actors have a responsibility under international humanitarian law to ensure protection to non-combatants, including peacekeepers, journalists, medical personnel and civilians.”

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned what he called a “dangerous incident”.

Lebanon’s foreign ministry said the attack was “in violation of international law”.

Cross-border fire since October has killed at least 347 people in Lebanon, mostly Hizbollah fighters, but also at least 68 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

The fighting has displaced tens of thousands of people in southern Lebanon and in northern Israel, where the military says 10 soldiers and eight civilians have been killed.

An uptick in deadly exchanges in recent days has fuelled concerns of an all-out conflict between Israel and Hizbollah, who last fought a war in 2006.

UNTSO was set up after the 1948 war that accompanied Israel’s creation to monitor armistice agreements reached with its Arab neighbours.

It also assists other UN peacekeeping operations in the region, including UNIFIL, which was established after Israel’s 1978 invasion of south Lebanon and expanded following the 2006 war.

62 users have voted.


Get top stories and blog posts emailed to you each day.