Australian among three UN observers wounded while patrolling Lebanon border

Australian among three UN observers wounded while patrolling Lebanon border
  • PublishedApril 1, 2024

An Australian is among three United Nations observers and one interpreter who have been injured while patrolling Lebanon’s southern border with Israel.

The UN peacekeeping mission known as UNIFIL, as well as unarmed technical observers known as UNTSO, are stationed in southern Lebanon to monitor hostilities along the demarcation line between Lebanon and Israel, known as the Blue Line.

Andrea Tenenti, a spokesperson for the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon, confirmed to the ABC that the four were injured and had been evacuated for medical treatment after an explosion occurred nearby.

The three military observers, who are from Australia, Chile, and Norway, were unarmed, he said.

“The targeting of peacekeepers is unacceptable,” he said.

Mr Tenenti said UNIFIL had informed all warring parties of their patrols as usual and the observers’ vehicle was carrying clear UN markings.

“We repeat our call for all actors to cease the current heavy exchanges of fire before more people are unnecessarily hurt,” he said.

Mr Tenenti said UNIFIL was “investigating the origin of the explosion” but it was difficult to put investigators on the ground immediately because of the ongoing exchange of fire.

The Australian Department of Defence confirmed a Australian Defence Force (ADF) member was injured while “undertaking a routine United Nations patrol to monitor activity near the Israeli-Lebanon border”.

“Defence is taking the appropriate steps to ensure the safety and welfare of the member,” it said in a statement.

Lebanese armed group Hezbollah, which supports Hamas, has been trading fire with the Israeli military across the Blue Line since the start of the war in Gaza.

The UN secretary general Antonio Guterres condemned the recent explosion, saying the cross-border hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel “continue to be of grave concern”.

“The repeated breaches of the cessation of hostilities are in violation of Security Council resolution 1701,” he said in a statement.

“The impact on civilian areas, with dozens of civilian fatalities reported, destruction of residential and agricultural areas, and displacement of tens of thousands of people on both sides of the Blue Line, is unacceptable.”

Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister Najib Mikati also condemned what he described as the “targeting” of UN staff.

Lebanese media, citing security officials, reported an Israeli drone strike targeted the UN observers in the southern village of Wadi Katmoun near the border town of Rmeish on Saturday.

The Israeli military has denied striking a UN vehicle in the area.

“Contrary to the reports, the IDF did not strike a UNIFIL vehicle in the area of Rmeish this morning,” the Israeli military said in a statement.

On Friday Israel carried out its deadliest strikes in months on northern Syria’s Aleppo province, saying it killed a senior Hezbollah commander in Lebanon.

SOURCE: ABCNEWS

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