Australian reportedly among three UN workers injured while patrolling Lebanon border


An Australian is among three United Nations observers and an interpreter who have been injured while patrolling Lebanon’s southern border with Israel, according to Lebanese media.

The UN peacekeeping mission known as UNIFIL, as well as unarmed technical observers known as UNTSO, are stationed in southern Lebanon to monitor hostilities along the demarcation line between Lebanon and Israel, known as the Blue Line.

Lebanese armed group Hezbollah has been trading fire with the Israeli military across the Blue Line since October in parallel with the war in Gaza.

Lebanese media, citing security officials, reported an Israeli drone strike targeted the observers in the southern village of Wadi Katmoun near the border town of Rmeich on Saturday. 

The Israeli military has denied striking a UN vehicle in the area. 

“Contrary to the reports, the IDF did not strike a UNIFIL vehicle in the area of Rmeich this morning,” the Israeli military said in a statement.

Rmeich mayor Milad Alam told Reuters he heard a blast.

“Then [we] saw a UNIFL car zipping by. The foreign observers were taken to hospitals in Tyre and Beirut by helicopter and car,” he said.

Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned what he called was the “targeting” of UN staff. 

Hezbollah-run television station Al-Manar said the drone strike injured three workers from Australia, Chile and Norway, as well as a Lebanese interpreter. 

The ABC has contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs for more information on the injured Australian. 

Andrea Teneti, a spokesperson for the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon, said all four had been evacuated for medical attention.  

He said they were “investigating the origin of the explosion”.

“The targeting of peacekeepers is unacceptable,” Mr Teneti said.

“We repeat our call for all actors to cease the current heavy exchanges of fire before more people are unnecessarily hurt.”

On Friday Israel carried out its deadliest strikes in months on northern Syria’s Aleppo province and said it killed a senior Hezbollah commander in Lebanon.

AP/Reuters



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