Washington condemns Israel's repeated attacks on US-backed Lebanese Army

Israeli army has struck Lebanese soldiers more than 34 times over the past few months

Comrades carry the coffin of a Lebanese soldier who was killed by Israeli fire on a border post in southern Lebanon on December 5. AFP
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The US administration has rebuked the Israeli army for more than 34 attacks against the Lebanese Armed Forces over the past two months, prompting condemnations from top Washington officials, according to CNN.

Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah have been involved in hostilities since October 7, with Hezbollah saying its attacks are in support of Hamas, as it aims to divert Israel's military focus from its offensive in Gaza.

The Lebanese army is not a party to the fighting and has not retaliated against these attacks. It is backed by western countries, including the US.

On December 5, a Lebanese soldier was killed when Israeli shelling hit a military outpost in south Lebanon. This marked the first Lebanese army casualty since the border conflict erupted.

The Israeli army said they were “sorry” for the attack, which, it said, had not targeted the Lebanese Army.

Kandice Ardiel, a spokeswoman for UNIFIL told The National that they "have expressed concern regarding the death and injuries of Lebanese soldiers, noting that they have not engaged in conflict."

She added that violations of UN Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, are investigated and reported to the Security Council.


The Israelis have struck Lebanese Armed Forces with small arms and artillery fire, drones and helicopters, injuring at least eight soldiers, according to US officials, a regional security source, and a list of the incidents compiled by the US and reviewed by CNN.

US officials said the Biden administration has told Israel that the strikes are unacceptable, according to CNN. If one attack seemed to have been accidental, according to one official, other attacks were “less clear”.

A spokesman for the Israeli army told CNN on Friday that any harm caused “to other forces is unintentional”.

“In response to Hezbollah’s aggression, the IDF strikes the terrorist organisation’s military infrastructure and works to eliminate any threat to the State of Israel,” Israeli army spokesperman Nir Dinar said.

“Any harm to civilians and other forces is unintentional. Such incidents are reviewed in order to improve operational precautions and to ensure accountability when necessary,” Mr Dinar added.

Since the cross-border exchanges began, more than 120 people have been killed on the Lebanese side, most of them Hezbollah fighters but also 17 civilians, three of them journalists

On the Israeli side, six soldiers and three civilians have been killed.

This comes amid concerns that the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza could spill over into Lebanon.

During an unannounced visit to Beirut on November 7, US envoy Amos Hochstein called for a “return to calm” on the southern Lebanese border.

“Restoring calm to the southern border is of the utmost importance to the United States and should be the top priority for both Lebanon and Israel,” he added.

Updated: December 16, 2023, 2:32 PM