Lebanon: Continuation of hostilities between IDF and Hezbollah

Naqoura, 18 July 2006 - Heavy exchanges of fire continued along the length of the Blue Line during the past 24 hours. Rockets were fired from the Lebanese territory, and there was intensive shelling and bombing from the Israeli side.

All UNIFIL positions in the area of operation are permanently occupied and maintained by the troops. There were 15 incidents of firing close to UNIFIL positions, and a position close to the village of Marwahin suffered one direct hit from the Israeli side causing material damage, but no injuries. UNIFIL is still facing serious restrictions in its freedom of movement through the area due to the ongoing hostilities and severe destruction of roads and most of the bridges. Yesterday, UNIFIL dispatched a re-supply of food, water, and fuel to its positions.

Two IDF ground incursions inside Lebanese territory were reported yesterday. Three PUMA armored vehicles entered approximately one kilometer inside Lebanese territory in the area of Ras Naqoura on the Mediterranean coast yesterday afternoon, and withdrew to the Israeli side after a while. IDF forces also operated on the Lebanese side of the divided village of Ghajar. They demolished two Hezbollah outposts on the northern edges of the village, and set up a barrier of cement blocs along parts of the northern boundary of the Lebanese side of the village. Exchange of fire was reported during this operation.

On the humanitarian front, UNIFIL continued to cooperate closely with the Lebanese authorities. It was decided to set up a joint coordination center for humanitarian activities in Tyre in the western sector, and Marjayoun in the eastern sector, to coordinate humanitarian activities. Today, UNIFIL dispatched a convoy with humanitarian aid to the villages of AI Boustan and Alma Ash Shab. UNIFIL distributed food items to children of the village of Naqoura yesterday.

Families of UNIFIL staff located in Tyre are gathered in the Rest House hotel, on the outskirts of the town. Arrangements are being made for their evacuation from the country. All UNIFIL staff remains, and is not being evacuated.

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UNIFIL is the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon