UN peacekeepers inspect sites of Hezbollah attack

UNIFIL sends technical team to northern Israel at IDF’s request, will present findings to United Nations

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

UN peacekeepers and IDF officers visit the site of a Hezbollah missile attack on IDF positions in northern Israel on September 4, 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)
UN peacekeepers and IDF officers visit the site of a Hezbollah missile attack on IDF positions in northern Israel on September 4, 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)

United Nations peacekeepers on Wednesday conducted an independent investigation of Sunday’s Hezbollah missile attack, visiting the areas hit in the strikes, the Israel Defense Forces said.

On Sunday afternoon, the Iran-backed terror group fired three anti-tank guided missiles at Israeli positions near the security fence — two of them at a military vehicle and one at a battalion headquarters. No Israeli soldiers were injured, and the IDF retaliated by firing approximately 100 artillery shells and bombs at Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon. No Lebanese casualties were reported.

The head of the UN’s Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) called the Hezbollah missile attack a “serious incident in violation of UN Security Council resolution 1701,” referring to the decision that ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War and required all armed terror groups remain north of the country’s Litani River.

“Following the commander of UNIFIL’s declaration on Sunday [September 1] that a violation of the UN Security Council resolution 1701 took place by Hezbollah, yesterday an investigation into the event was conducted by a technical team from UNIFIL, at the IDF’s request,” the army said in a statement Thursday.

The technical team visited the road where the anti-tank guided missiles were fired at the military vehicle and the battalion headquarters that was targeted in the strike.

“The findings of [UNIFIL’s] report will be presented to the UN headquarters in New York,” the IDF said.

IDF chief Aviv Kohavi (second left) meets with the head of UNIFIL Stefano Del Col in the Israeli military’s Tel Aviv headquarters on September 1, 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)

On Sunday, following the attack, IDF chief Aviv Kohavi met with the head of UNIFIL, Stefano Del Col, in the Israeli military’s Tel Aviv headquarters.

“We will not accept harm to our citizens or our soldiers, and we will not accept Hezbollah’s precision missile project on Lebanese soil,” Kohavi told Del Col.

Kohavi called on the UN peacekeepers and the Lebanese government to take action against Hezbollah’s precision missile project, indicating that Israel would be forced to act if they didn’t.

“The current state of affairs is not one we can come to terms with,” he said.

Israel has repeatedly claimed that the Hezbollah terror group, occasionally aided by the Lebanese Armed Forces, maintains an active presence in southern Lebanon of both fighters and weaponry despite this being proscribed by UN resolution 1701. UNIFIL, which is tasked with ensuring the resolution’s implementation, has indicated that the constraints of its mandate prevent it from being able to fully investigate Israel’s claims, namely because of the peacekeepers’ inability to enter private property.

A man fixes a Hezbollah flag at the ‘Garden of Iran’ Park in the Lebanese village of Maroun al-Ras on September 1, 2019, as fires blaze on the Lebanese side along the border following an exchange of fire with Israel. (Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP)

Israel and Hezbollah, which fought a month-long war in 2006, have indicated they do not want to go to war but appeared on a collision course in recent days after Hezbollah vowed it would retaliate for a pair of Israeli strikes against the Iran-backed terrorist group — one in Syria claimed by Israel, and another, in Beirut, that the group lays at Israel’s door.

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