IDF says UN peacekeepers in Lebanon were hit by Hezbollah roadside bomb

Military had already denied claims it carried out March 30 strike in Rmeish, in which four UNTSO members were wounded

Illustrative: A UN peacekeeper vehicle passes next to a destroyed car in the southern outskirts of Tyre, Lebanon, March 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Mohammad Zaatari)
Illustrative: A UN peacekeeper vehicle passes next to a destroyed car in the southern outskirts of Tyre, Lebanon, March 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Mohammad Zaatari)

A group of United Nations peacekeepers wounded in a blast in southern Lebanon’s Rmeish on Saturday that Lebanese officials blamed on Israel were hit by a Hezbollah roadside bomb, the Israeli military said Wednesday.

Shortly after the March 30 incident, the Israel Defense Forces denied carrying out any strikes in the Rmeish area. Hezbollah-linked media and security sources speaking to Reuters had claimed that the IDF carried out a drone strike on a vehicle with four UN employees.

The IDF’s Arabic-language spokesman, Lt. Col. Avichay Adraee, said Wednesday in a post on X that according to the latest information available to the military, the UN peacekeepers were wounded by “an explosive device that had been planted by Hezbollah in the area.”

According to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), the three military observers — from Australia, Chile, and Norway — and a Lebanese translator were carrying out a foot patrol and were not in a vehicle as the initial reports suggested.

UNTSO said they were wounded after a “shell exploded near their location.”

An ongoing Lebanese army investigation determined that a landmine was the cause of the blast, a judicial official said Wednesday,

“Preliminary results of a Lebanese army investigation have found that the observers were wounded by a landmine,” the Lebanese official told AFP, requesting anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The ongoing investigation by the Lebanese army and peacekeepers from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) had yet to determine who planted the mine, the official added, noting three mines were in the area, “one of which exploded.”

The observers from UNTSO, which supports UNIFIL, had been on a foot patrol along the so-called Blue Line — the UN-demarcated border between Lebanon and Israel, the peacekeepers said.

Israel and Hezbollah have been locked in cross-border skirmishes since the start of the war in Gaza, with the Lebanese terror group attacking Israeli towns and military targets on a near-daily basis, claiming it is doing so in support of the Hamas terror regime in Gaza.

So far, the skirmishes on the border have resulted in eight civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of 10 IDF soldiers and reservists. There have also been several attacks from Syria, without any injuries.

Hezbollah has named 266 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 50 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and at least 60 civilians, three of whom were journalists, have been killed.

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