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Article: UN Observers Wounded in Southern Lebanon

UN Observers Wounded in Southern Lebanon

UN Observers Wounded in Southern Lebanon

PHOTO CAPTION: United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNSTO) vehicle in Sour, Lebanon, on Mar. 21, 2024. Photo by Collin Mayfield.

By Collin Mayfield

BEIRUT. Three UN observers and one Lebanese translator were wounded in southern Lebanon after a shell exploded nearby on the morning of Mar. 30, 2024. The peacekeepers were injured while conducting a foot patrol along the Blue Line, which demarcates the border between Lebanon, Israel and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The shelling occurred outside the Lebanese border village of Rmiesh. The wounded UN personnel were evacuated to hospitals in Beirut and Tyre by car and helicopter for medical treatment. The peacekeepers were Australian, Chilean and Norwegian.

UNIFIL decried today’s incident in an official statement, saying that “all actors have a responsibility under international humanitarian law to ensure protection to non-combatants” and that warring parties must “cease the current heavy exchanges of fire before more people are unnecessarily hurt.”

Anonymous Lebanese security personnel told Reuters that the UN observers were wounded by an Israeli strike. Likewise, the Lebanese National News Agency said Israeli forces attacked the area where the UN observers were wounded. Both the IDF and Hezbollah have denied responsibility for today’s shelling of UN personnel. UNIFIL is currently “investigating the origin of the explosion.”
The Observers Group Lebanon (OGL) peacekeepers, part of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), support the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) mandate. UNIFIL was established in 1978 to ensure the withdrawal of Israeli Forces from southern Lebanon but was bolstered after the 2006 Israel–Hezbollah War. Now, UNIFIL monitors the ongoing conflict between Israeli Forces and Iran-backed Hezbollah.

The IDF and Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas, have regularly exchanged cross-border fire since Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip began last October following a Hamas attack into southern Israel. There have been over 4400 attacks from both Hezbollah and the IDF since according to analysts from the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS). Nearly 270 Hezbollah fighters and about 50 civilians have been killed in southern Lebanon by Israeli strikes, with an unknown number of Israelis killed. Hezbollah stated that it will not desist attacks until a ceasefire is enacted in Gaza.

UNIFIL and the Lebanese Army, neutral in the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, have been hit by multiple Israeli strikes. In November 2023 UNIFIL stated that Israeli gunfire targeted one of its patrols near Aytaroun in southern Lebanon, but there were no casualties.

An Israeli tank shot at clearly marked press last October, killing Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah. UNIFIL condemned this as a violation of international law.

Last Wednesday, Mar. 27, 2024, multiple Israeli airstrikes killed 16 people in southern Lebanon while a barrage of Hezbollah rockets killed one Israeli, making it the deadliest exchange over the past several months. Yesterday, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant stated that the IDF would increase attacks on Hezbollah, saying Israeli forces would be "shifting from repelling to actively pursuing Hezbollah".

(Reporting by Collin Mayfield. Collin's reportage was funded in part by Qilo Tactical and Kommando Store)



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