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Lebanon: Fighting Intensifies, UN Mission Damaged

As Fighting Intensifies in Lebanon, UN Mission Sustains Damage But No Casualties

New York, Aug 10 2006 11:00AM

With exchanges of fire intensifying over the past 24 hours throughout the southern Lebanon, the United Nations mission there sustained extensive material damage, though no one was hurt during the attacks.

Hizbollah fired rockets in “significantly larger numbers from various locations,” the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said in a news release, adding that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) intensified shelling and aerial bombardment across the south.

“Four mortar rounds from the Hizbollah side impacted directly inside a UNIFIL position in the area of Deir Mimess yesterday evening, causing extensive material damage, and destroying a fuel storage tank, but with no casualties,” the mission said.

Two rockets from an unknown source impacted directly inside a UNIFIL position in the area of Tibnin within one hour yesterday evening, also causing extensive material damage, but no casualties, it added.

There were five incidents of firing from the Israeli side close to UN positions in the areas of Ghanduriyah (2), Deir Mimes, Brashit and Tibnin, according to the release. There was one incident of firing from the Hizbollah side close to a UNIFIL position in the area of Hula. Hezbollah also fired rockets from the vicinity of UN positions in Labouneh, Tibnin and At Tiri.

As it has been doing for weeks, UNIFIL strongly protested all the incidents to the Lebanese and Israeli authorities respectively.

All UNIFIL positions remain permanently occupied and maintained by the troops. 19 UN positions, including the UNIFIL headquarters in Naqoura, are currently in the areas where the IDF operates inside Lebanese territory and where intensive shelling and ground exchanges are taking place.

But the mission’s freedom of movement and the ability to re-supply positions and provide humanitarian assistance were denied because of the lack of security clearance from the IDF and due to the intensive hostilities on the ground.

Attempts are being made today to re-supply UNIFIL forward positions which are facing critical shortages of fuel, but the mission cautioned that if it is not able to re-supply these positions in the next 24 hours, “it may face the situation where it would be impossible” to maintain them.

Further, the IDF has not responded yet to the repeated requests by UNIFIL to reopen the road between Tyre and Beirut by putting up another provisional bridge over the Litani River. A humanitarian convoy to distribute food to the villages in the western sector, and other humanitarian activities planned by UNIFIL, could not proceed for a fourth consecutive day due to the denial of consent by the IDF.


ENDS

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