Unifil condemns attack that injured peacekeeper in southern Lebanon

Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati visits Qatari Emir amid clashes at border with Israel

An armoured personnel carrier belonging to the Unifil drives past a poster of Qassem Suleimani, slain commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, in the Marjayoun area of southern Lebanon. AFP
Powered by automated translation

Live updates: Follow the latest news on Israel-Gaza

A UN peacekeeper was injured by mortar fire in southern Lebanon on Saturday night in the latest exchange of cross-border fire between the Israel military and Hezbollah and allied militant groups

“On Saturday, at around 10pm, two mortar shells hit a Unifil base in the vicinity of the village of Houla, resulting in the injury of one peacekeeper who was promptly evacuated for medical treatment,” Andrea Tenenti, spokesman for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, told The National.

“Attacking UN peacekeepers is a crime, a violation of international law and must be condemned,” he said.

Mr Tenenti said the injured soldier's condition was stable, but offered no further details.

Lebanon's official National News Agency reported that a Nepalese peacekeeper was “moderately injured in the stomach and arm after two Israeli shells” fell in Houla.

The incident took place just hours after a shell landed inside Unifil's headquarters in the Lebanese town of Naqoura.

“Unifil expresses serious concern over these two attacks on our troops who are tirelessly working 24/7 to restore stability in southern Lebanon and de-escalate this perilous situation,” Mr Tenenti said.

The Unifil headquarters were hit by a stray Israeli rocket during an exchange of fire on October 15, with no reported injuries.

“We strongly urge all parties involved in the conflict to immediately cease fire,” Mr Tenenti said.

Since Israel launched a war on Gaza in retaliation for an attack by Hamas on October 7, Lebanon's southern border has witnessed daily clashes between the Iran-backed Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas, and Israel.

Although the violence has so far been contained to a handful of border towns, the situation remains highly volatile, with concerns that any minor miscalculation could draw the entire nation into the conflict, potentially creating a regional war.

On Sunday, Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, arrived in Qatar to meet the state's Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, along with the Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani.

Qatar has positioned itself as a mediator in the Israel-Gaza conflict, as it maintains relations with Hamas while having close security ties with the US. The Qatar-led negotiations have already led to the release of four civilian hostages from the more than 200 captives taken held by Hamas when the group attacked Israel.

The border clashes have killed at least 58 people in Lebanon, primarily Hezbollah combatants, but also four civilians, according to an AFP tally. They include Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah.

On the Israeli side, at least four people have been killed, including one civilian.

Nearly 29,000 people have fled the violence, the International Organisation for Migration has said.

Updated: October 29, 2023, 1:53 PM