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U.N. observers injured in southern Lebanese border incident

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A shell explosion near the southern Lebanese border left four United Nations military observers wounded on Saturday, according to statements from the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Lebanon.

The injured observers are part of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, which provides support to the U.N. peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon, known as UNIFIL.

While local Lebanese media, citing security officials, initially attributed the incident to an Israeli drone strike targeting the observers in the village of Wadi Katmoun near Rmeich, the Israeli military refuted these claims. On social media, the Israeli military denied involvement in the incident, stating that they did not strike any UNIFIL vehicle in the area of Rmeish that morning.

UNIFIL spokesperson Andrea Tenenti emphasized the organization’s commitment to investigating the origin of the explosion. Tenenti also condemned the targeting of peacekeepers, labeling it as unacceptable and urging all involved parties to halt the ongoing heavy exchanges of fire to prevent further casualties.

The incident occurred against a backdrop of escalating clashes between the Israeli military and Hezbollah militants in recent weeks. Tensions have surged since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza, fueling concerns that the frequent border skirmishes could spiral into a full-scale war. The violence has already displaced tens of thousands of individuals, exacerbating the humanitarian situation in the region.

UNIFIL, established to oversee the withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon following the 1978 invasion, has expanded its mandate over the years. Following the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, the U.N. augmented UNIFIL’s role, enabling peacekeepers to deploy along the Israeli border to facilitate the extension of Lebanese military authority into the country’s southern regions, marking a significant development in decades-long dynamics in the area.

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