4 January 2016 The United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon and the commander of the UN peacekeeping force there have urged both sides to exercise utmost restraint to prevent any escalation after that two Israeli army vehicles were attacked south of the Blue Line and Israeli forces returned artillery fire.
In a statement issued by her office, The Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Ms. Sigrid Kaag, expressed concern over the attack on an Israel Defence Forces (IDF) convoy in the Shebaa Farms area, and subsequent IDF shelling across the Blue Line into Lebanon.
According to the statement, in discussions with the parties, including regional stakeholders, Ms. Kaag stressed the risks posed to the stability of Lebanon. She also highlighted the danger of miscalculation which could lead to a deterioration of the situation on the ground.
The Special Coordinator urged all parties to fulfil their obligations under resolution 1701 (which imposed a ceasefire and the Israeli-Hizbollah war of 2006), and to refrain from any acts or rhetoric which could undermine stability across the Blue Line.
“The need of the time is to maintain security vigil and to exercise utmost restraint against any provocation,” UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Commander Major-General Luciano Portolano said, noting that UNIFIL has further reinforced its presence on the ground and intensified patrols across the area of operations in coordination with the Lebanese army.
“General calm has been restored in the area and the parties have reassured me of their continued commitment to maintain the cessation of hostilities in accordance with resolution 1701,” he added in a separate statement.
Providing further details on the incident, UNIFIL said it had been informed that two Israeli army vehicles were attacked south of the Blue Line in the general area of Sheeba Farms. Israel returned artillery fire in the general area of Kafr Chouba, Abbasiva and Bastara in UNIFIL’s area of operations. No casualties were reported to UNIFIL, which has launched an investigation to determine the facts and circumstances of the incident.
Last month three rockets were fired from southern Lebanon towards Israel and Israel retaliated with eight rounds of 120mm mortar, but no casualties were reported.
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