UN Calls Meeting to Avoid 'Misunderstandings'
Israel and Lebanon should coordinate their activities along their shared border with the United Nations, UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Commander Alberto Asarta Cuevas said in a three-way meeting with representatives from the IDF and the Lebanese army.
Notifying UN troops regarding border activities will “minimize the scope for any misunderstandings,” Asarta said. He praised the three-way meeting as “constructive.”
The meeting followed an exchange of fire along the border this week in which one Israeli commander, three Lebanese soldiers, and one Lebanese journalist were killed. A Lebanese soldier opened fire at Israeli soldiers as Israeli workers cut a tree on Israel's side of the border; Lebanon later accused Israel of sparking the firefight by crossing the border.
The UN confirmed Wednesday that Israeli troops had not crossed the border at any point during the incident.
UNIFIL is charged with enforcing UN resolutions regarding southern Lebanon, including Resolution 1701, which forbids the presence of Lebanese terrorist group and coalition partner Hizbullah south of the Litani River. The resolution, created in order to end the Second Lebanon War, also calls for Hizbullah to disarm.
The resolution has widely been seen as ineffective. Israeli experts believe that Hizbullah rearmed quickly with the help of Syria and Iran; their beliefs have been confirmed by Hizbullah head Hassan Nasrallah, who threatened in February to bomb Ben-Gurion Airport and Israeli oil refineries – a sign that his organization has the firepower to reach central Israel.
Hizbullah's Al-Manar television claimed Tuesday that UNIFIL soldiers were at the site of the clash between Israeli and Lebanese soldiers, but "escaped" instead of staying to assist the wounded. The station aired footage of two Indonesian soldiers as they allegedly left the scene in a taxi.