UNIFIL denies saying Israel fired cluster bombs into Lebanon
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UNIFIL denies saying Israel fired cluster bombs into Lebanon

UN monitoring force says it ‘did not convey any such findings’; Israel’s envoy urges UN to dismantle Hezbollah

An illustrative photo of cluster bomb munitions found in Syria (photo credit: image capture HumanRightsWatch/YouTube)
An illustrative photo of cluster bomb munitions found in Syria (photo credit: image capture HumanRightsWatch/YouTube)

The United Nations’ observer force in Lebanon on Thursday denied telling Lebanese security sources that Israel had fired cluster bombs into Lebanon after an attack on IDF soldiers by Hezbollah on Tuesday.

A Lebanese media report initially said a joint investigation by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon and the Lebanese army had found that Israel had fired cluster bombs into Lebanon.

The Israeli artillery fire caused damage to 10 sites in Kfar Chouba and the Shebaa Farms region, Lebanese news source The Daily Star reported, citing unnamed security sources.

But when contacted by The Times of Israel for comment, UNIFIL denied the report.

“Our investigations are still ongoing in close coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces. But at this stage UNIFIL did not convey any such findings,” a spokesperson said.

Cluster bombs are a controversial weapon which 109 countries have signed a treaty to ban. Israel used them widely during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, but an senior IDF official told Reuters in 2012 that Israel would limit its use of the munition in any future conflict out of concern for “legitimacy, our non-indifference to the treaty, effectiveness and other factors.”

Syrian regime forces have also come under criticism for using cluster bombs during the country’s civil war.

Israel's UN envoy Ron Prosor addresses the UN Security Council in New York, on April 29, 2014 (screen capture: YouTube)
Israel’s UN envoy Ron Prosor addresses the UN Security Council in New York, on April 29, 2014 (screen capture: YouTube)

The report came one day after Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, demanded that the Security Council and secretary-general condemn Tuesday’s attack by Hezbollah and dismantle the group.

“Israel will not allow harm to its citizens,” he said.

“[The Islamic State] is spreading like weeds across Syria and Iraq, al-Qaeda has branches out to Africa and Yemen, and Hezbollah is planting deep roots in Lebanon,” Prosor added. “Just like other terrorist groups, Hezbollah comes from a extremist religious worldview, acts brutally and constitutes a threat to peace and international security.”

Prosor also said that Israel holds Lebanon responsible for Hezbollah’s actions and demanded that the Lebanese government act on previous Security Council resolutions and deploy troops to the south and dismantle Hezbollah.

Hezbollah took responsibility for detonating an explosive device along the border with Israel Tuesday, injuring two soldiers. In a statement, the group said that the attack was revenge for the death of a Hezbollah member who died September 5 in an explosion that Lebanese officials claimed was caused when Israel destroyed one of its own surveillance devices that had been uncovered inside Lebanon.

The clash Tuesday came two days after a Lebanese soldier was lightly wounded by Israeli forces in the same area. According to a spokesperson for UNIFIL, the United Nations agency tasked with monitoring the border area, the soldier, identified by the Lebanese Daily Star as Zakaria Hamza al-Masri, was rushed to the hospital Sunday following the incident near the Shebaa Farms.

The IDF said Sunday that its troops opened fire on “suspects” attempting to cross the border from Lebanon, apparently hitting one and forcing them to retreat. The wounded soldier was patrolling in the southern Lebanese town of Kfar Chouba, about 2 kilometers from the border with Israel, according to the Lebanese Naharnet news outlet.

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