UNIFIL: Civilians caught in the crossfire

The following information appeared in the UNIFIL daily situation report: “Lebanon: Heavy exchanges of fire continued, 27 Jul 2006”

Naqoura - Heavy exchanges of fire continued with the same intensity along the length of the Blue Line in the past 24 hours. Hezbollah continued to fire rockets from various locations, and the IDF continued intensive shelling and aerial bombardment of the south. The IDF has maintained their presence inside Lebanese territory in the area of Marun Al Ras, Bint Jubayl and Yarun in the central sector. Intensive fighting in these areas, as well as the shelling of the area of Aytarun, and the aerial bombardment of the areas of At Tiri and Brashit north of Bint Jubayl was reported yesterday. This morning, sporadic fighting was reported in Bint Jubayl and Marun Al Ras, and intensive shelling of the area of At Tiri. There are a number of civilians who are still stranded in these towns and caught in the crossfire.

There were three incidents of firing close to UN positions in the last 24 hours from the Israeli side. It was also reported that Hezbollah fired from the vicinity of four UN positions at Marwahin, Alma Ash Shab, Brashit, and At Tiri. The UNIFIL Engineering Contingent from China successfully disposed of one mortar bomb inside the Ghanaian battalion position, in the area of Marwahin. All UNIFIL positions in the area of operation remain permanently occupied and maintained by the troops. A number of positions were resupplied yesterday, and additional supply convoys to forward positions are planned for today. UNIFIL suspended last night a search operation to recover the mortal remains of the military observers killed in aerial bombardment on 25 July at the patrol base of the Observer Group Lebanon (OGL) in Khiyam. Heavy engineering equipment is required to resume the search for the fourth observer.

Over 600 civilians from Naqoura, Alma Ash Shab, and other neighboring villages were sheltered inside the UNIFIL Headquarters in Naqoura yesterday, and provided with food and water. UNIFIL also provided humanitarian escorts to a group of 250 of them yesterday from Naqoura to Tyre, and to another group of around 300 this morning. Around 100 civilians still remain in the UNIFIL compound. The ICRC distributed this morning some food to UNIFIL in Naqoura for the remaining group. UNIFIL hospital in Naqoura provided treatment for 39 civilians.

Approximately 1000 local civilians from Alma Ash Shab, Al Bustan, Yarin, Al Duharya, and other neighboring villages, were sheltered inside a UNIFIL position of the Ghanaian battalion in the area of Al Duharya at noon yesterday. Around 670 of them left the position for Tyre later in the afternoon. A group of 330 remained inside the position, and UNIFIL will attempt to provide a humanitarian escort and transportation for them to Tyre today. There were other reports of convoys of civilian cars moving from these areas in the direction of Tyre.

UNIFIL evacuated some 176 UN dependents and foreign nationals from the country on board a French ship which delivered supplies to UNIFIL in Naqoura yesterday.

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    UNIFIL is the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon