April 1, 2024 | Flash Brief

Explosion Wounds Three UN Military Observers Patrolling Lebanese Border

April 1, 2024 | Flash Brief

Explosion Wounds Three UN Military Observers Patrolling Lebanese Border

Latest Developments

An explosion near the Israel-Lebanon border on March 30 wounded three unarmed United Nations peacekeeping observers and a Lebanese interpreter on a patrol. The observers from Chile, Australia, and Norway had been participating in the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, an organization that supports the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The responsible party remains unknown.

The peacekeeping team was patrolling near the Blue Line — the informal border with Israel where UNIFIL’s peacekeeping forces have been deployed per a 2006 UN Security Council resolution. UNIFIL spokesperson Andrea Teneti told the Associated Press that UNIFIL informed nearby military groups of its patrol and that the peacekeepers were traveling in a vehicle marked with UN insignia.

UNIFIL said it is “investigating the origin of the explosion.” Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said Israel targeted the vehicle, but the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) denied that its troops were responsible. Meanwhile, tensions have been rising between Hezbollah and the IDF at the Israel-Lebanon border. Hezbollah intensified its attacks against Israel in solidarity with Hamas following Hamas’s October 7 massacre.

Expert Analysis

“The ongoing hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel, which began with the group’s unprovoked initiation of attacks against the Israelis on October 8, underscores the ineffectiveness of UNIFIL under its current mandate. The explosion that wounded the three peacekeepers and their interpreter demonstrates that UNIFIL has been deployed amidst a dangerous situation that they are helpless to prevent or effectively influence.” — David Daoud, FDD Senior Fellow

“It should come as no surprise that a UNIFIL patrol in southern Lebanon came under fire in an active war zone. With Hezbollah’s well-documented history of showing blatant disregard for the lives of civilians, the Lebanese Armed Forces, and UNIFIL personnel, the responsibility should fall on Hezbollah to prove they were not involved in this attack. However, it is a move they are unlikely to pursue seriously.” — Joe Truzman, Senior Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

Israel Combatting Hezbollah Threats From Lebanon

Hezbollah and the IDF continue to exchange fire over the Israel-Lebanon border. On March 29, an Israeli air strike killed a senior officer in Hezbollah’s anti-tank missile unit. Since the Gaza war began, Israel has attacked Hezbollah as many as 4,500 times in Lebanon and Syria, the IDF announced on March 12. The IDF claims to have killed more than 300 Hezbollah terrorists and injured over 750 others while targeting Hezbollah’s military assets. Further, the strikes have eliminated about 90 percent of Hezbollah’s elite Radwan Force positioned in southern Lebanon. Israel has also destroyed more than 150 intelligence and observation posts, 70 manned military command and control centers, and 50 rocket platforms across Lebanon.

UNIFIL Peacekeeping Failures in Lebanon

UNIFIL is tasked with securing the Israel-Lebanon border and helping the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) establish “an area free of any armed personnel, assets, and weapons” south of the Litani River, as stipulated in its UN mandate. However, UNIFIL’s 10,000 peacekeepers from 49 countries have looked the other way as Iran-backed Hezbollah’s arsenal has grown to an estimated 150,000 rockets and missiles. Since October 7, UNIFIL has failed to prevent Hezbollah from attacking Israel from southern Lebanon.

UNIFIL has also refrained from standing up to the LAF, which has repeatedly blocked the peacekeeping mission from fulfilling its mandate. According to the Israeli military, the LAF limits UNIFIL’s access to “illicit sites,” concealing Hezbollah’s “prohibited military operations.”

10 Things To Know About UNIFIL,” FDD Insight

Israel Kills Commander of Hezbollah Missile Squads,” FDD Flash Brief

U.S. Weighs Funding Multinational Peacekeeping Force in Gaza,” FDD Flash Brief


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