A southern Lebanon village backed by Hizbullah overpowered United Nations troops Saturday, seizing weapons and wounding one U.N. soldier in the eye. A United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) spokesman said that the Lebanese army intervened and that the U.N. soldiers retrieved their weapons.
The clash was an escalation of increasing tension in southern Lebanon, where UNIFIL officers have said they cannot carry out a mandate to keep Hizbullah from being armed, despite UN Resolution 1701 that ended the second Lebanon War and stated that as a condition. Saturday’s incident occurred after a U.N. vehicle arrested an Arab who opposed the presence of the international soldiers. Local residents joined the opposition and attacked the French troops with rocks, sticks and eggs, wounding a soldier in the eye and smashing windows of jeeps.
U.N. special coordinator in Lebanon, Michael Williams, told reported Thursday there have been several incidents in the area and added, "Some of these may have been something spontaneous in the street, but some were clearly organized,"
Hizbullah, which has been accused of agitating villagers to violence, blamed the United Nations troops for causing confrontations. Naim Qassem, the deputy leader of the terrorist organization, told a Lebanese newspaper Saturday, "The situation can be calmed by a change in the conduct of the international forces."