UN urges restraint after exchange of fire along Israeli-Lebanese border


3 August - The United Nations has urged Israel and Lebanon to exercise maximum restraint after an exchange of fire today along the so-called Blue Line separating the two countries.

Peacekeepers from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) are in the area of El Adeisse and are trying to ascertain the circumstances of the incident and any possible casualties, the spokesperson for the mission said.

“UNIFIL's immediate priority is to consolidate the calm and we are urging both parties to exercise maximum restraint,” said Neeraj Singh.

Media reports say that at least three Lebanese soldiers and a journalist were killed in the incident.

The Acting Force Commander of UNIFIL, Brigadier General Santi Bonfanti, is in contact with the command of both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Israeli Defence Force (IDF).

Gen. Bonfanti, who flew by helicopter to El Adeisse, reported that the situation is presently quiet, the mission added.

Respect for the Blue Line is one of the key provisions of Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the conflict that erupted in 2006 between Israel and the Lebanese group Hizbollah.

Council members later expressed deep concern about today's incident and urged all sides to exercise the “utmost restraint.”

Speaking on behalf of the 15-member panel, Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia, which holds the Council's rotating presidency this month, said it was critical that Israel and Lebanon respect the Blue Line and observe a cessation of hostilities.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also issued a statement through his spokesperson in which he voiced deep concern and noted that the incident is the most serious since resolution 1701 was adopted four years ago.

“The Secretary-General urges the parties to exercise maximum restraint and to work with UNIFIL and the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon in taking steps to consolidate the calm now restored in the area.”