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Lebanese Rocket, Israel Air Attacks Concern UN

UN Envoy Calls For End To Violations Of Withdrawal Line Between Israel, Lebanon

The United Nations envoy for southern Lebanon said today he was concerned by a series of Lebanese rocket attacks yesterday morning and then the retaliatory overflights and aircraft fire by Israeli forces.

Staffan de Mistura, the Personal Representative of Secretary-General Kofi Annan for Southern Lebanon, issued a statement urging the parties along the line of withdrawal between Lebanon and Israel, known as the Blue Line, to avoid all acts of hostility by acting with the “utmost restraint.”

About 4:45 a.m. yesterday, unknown elements launched three rockets from a position only 400 metres northeast of the headquarters of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon in the seaside town of Naqoura. One landed close to an Israeli naval boat and the other two landed inside Lebanese territory.

Soon after that incident, Israeli jets made illegal overflights over Lebanon. At about 10 p.m. last night, Israeli aircraft struck a reported Palestinian position about 20 kilometres southeast of the Lebanese capital of Beirut.

Mr. de Mistura said it was fortunate that no casualties were reported as a result of either the Lebanese or Israeli infringements of the Blue Line yesterday.

Noting that Lebanese authorities had begun a probe into the rocket attacks, he said the fact they were launched so close to a UNIFIL position was “a grave development.” He urged Lebanon to control its territory to avoid such incidents and to ensure greater calm.

The envoy also called on Israel to stop its violations of Lebanese airspace, saying he was particularly concerned that its air strike last night took place so deep inside Lebanese territory.

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