Antonio Guterres
Antonio GuterresREUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Friday he is profoundly concerned by escalating tensions between Israel and Hezbollah, adding that UN peacekeepers are working to calm the situation and prevent miscalculation, Reuters reported.

"One rash move - one miscalculation - could trigger a catastrophe that goes far beyond the border, and frankly, beyond imagination," Guterres told reporters, adding, "Let's be clear: The people of the region and the people of the world cannot afford Lebanon to become another Gaza."

Hezbollah has been firing rockets at Israel in solidarity with Hamas since the Gaza war erupted in October, forcing tens of thousands of Israelis to flee their homes in the north.

Israel has responded by striking Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, but there have been concerns in recent days that a further escalation could occur.

Earlier this week, the head of the IDF’s Northern Command, Major General Ori Gordin, and the Head of the Operations Directorate, Major General Oded Basiuk, conducted a situation assessment, during which operational plans for an attack in Lebanon were presented and approved.

Later, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah delivered an address in Lebanon during which he threatened Israel.

“The Lebanon front prevented enemy forces from participating in Gaza, some of which were elite forces because the enemy fears that the resistance (Hezbollah) will invade the Galilee, which remains on the table if a confrontation develops,” Nasrallah threatened.

UN peacekeeping force UNIFIL, as well as unarmed technical observers known as UNTSO, have long been stationed in southern Lebanon to monitor hostilities along the demarcation line between Lebanon and Israel, known as the Blue Line.

"UN peacekeepers are on the ground working to de-escalate tensions and help prevent miscalculation," Guterres said on Friday.

"The world must say loudly and clearly: immediate de-escalation is not only possible – it is essential," he added. "There is no military solution."

The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which has been in place since 1978, acts as a buffer between Lebanon and Israel and operates near the border. It works to implement Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

UNIFIL peacekeepers have come under attack several times over the years, leading the UN's mission in Lebanon to call for the country's military to guarantee the security of its peacekeepers.

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)