With heavy fighting continuing in southern Lebanon, the United Nations Interim Force (UNIFIL) there today again protested firing in the vicinity - which caused material damage and lightly wounded two blue helmets - to both the Israeli and Lebanese authorities.
Five aerial rockets from the Israeli side impacted between 5 to 20 meters of a UNIFIL position in the area of Addaisseh yesterday afternoon, the mission reported. One exploded in the air above the position and two UNIFIL soldiers from the Indian battalion were moderately wounded and evacuated to the UNIFIL hospital in Ibil As Saqy.
In another incident, one artillery round from the Israeli side impacted directly inside the UNIFIL position in Mays Al Jabal yesterday night, causing extensive material damage and the collapse of the ammunition shelter, but no casualties. “Early morning, two Israeli Defence Force (IDF) soldiers removed and dragged away the protective concertina wire around the UNIFIL position in the Marun Al Ras area,” the mission said in a news release.
It was also reported that Hizbollah fired rockets from the vicinity of three UN positions in the area of Tibnin, At Tiri and Brashit. They also fired small arms fire from the vicinity of two UN positions in the area of Alma Ash Shab and Al Duhayyra.
“UNIFIL strongly protested all these incidents to the Israeli and Lebanese authorities respectively,” the news release said.
Since the outbreak of hostilities, four UN military observers as well as one UNIFIL international staff member and his wife were killed, and four Ghanaian soldiers, three Indian soldiers, and one UN military observer were wounded as a result of firing.
During the night, IDF troops entered Lebanese territory in the area of Kafr Kila in the eastern sector, and are currently present in the general area of Kafr Kila, Al Tayyabah and Deir Mimess, UNMIL said. Intensive fighting on the ground was reported in the area of Al Tayyabah this morning. The area was under heavy Israeli bombardment and shelling yesterday.
The Force dispatched five logistic convoys to re-supply UN positions with water and fuel. After a number of attempts, UNIFIL also succeeded to re-supply the position in the Marun Al Ras area. The search operation for the body of the fourth military observer in Khiyam remained suspended as UNIFIL is still unable to reach the position and bring heavy engineering equipment to remove the debris due to the exchanges of fire in the area.
Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, a memorial service was held for the four, who Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a message to the solemn gathering “were the eyes of the world, reporting in detail about military and militia actions in southern Lebanon, the most dangerous theatre of a conflict that has now engulfed the whole country, as well as a large part of northern Israel.”
This morning, UNIFIL medical teams from Tibnin and Naqoura were urgently dispatched to the village of Qana to provide medical and humanitarian assistance to the local population and the victims of the aerial bombardment. The UNIFIL engineering team from China was also dispatched to Qana to assist in the search and rescue operation and to clear the debris.
Addressing the Security Council in New York at a meeting he convened on Lebanon, the Secretary-General called for a condemnation of that attack, which Lebanese authorities said killed some 54 civilians, including at least 37 children. He also said the Council must call for an immediate cessation of hostilities lest its own authority be undermined by inaction.
UNIFIL said it attempted to escort a contingent of Lebanese Joint Security Forces out of their headquarters in Marjayoun but had to turn back due to a broken bridge and heavy firing along the road. The Force did manage to provide a humanitarian escort and transportation to a group of 38 Lebanese civilians from Naqoura to Tyre.