UN Lebanon peacekeeping mission ‘deeply concerned’ over risk of escalation in violence

UNIFIL , the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, appeals for restraint from all sides after the assassination of Hamas’s deputy head in Beirut • Maltese contingent is part of UNIFIL

UNIFIL is composed of more than 10,000 soldiers from 48 countries (File photo: UNIFIL)
UNIFIL is composed of more than 10,000 soldiers from 48 countries (File photo: UNIFIL)

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Lebanon says it's “deeply concerned” by any potential escalation in tensions after Israel killed a top Hamas leader in Beirut.

Unifil (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) is responsible for monitoring the Blue Line, the unofficial border between Lebanon and Israel.

The Armed Forces of Malta has 10 soldiers embedded with an Irish Battalion operating as part of the UN force that carries out patrols along the southern border.

A spokesperson for UNIFIL, Kandice Ardiel told BBC: “We continue to implore all parties to cease their fire, and any interlocutors with influence to urge restraint.”

Israel and Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed militant group, have been exchanging fire on a regular basis since the Gaza war began in October.

However, there is the risk of escalation in violence after Israel carried out a targeted drone attack on Tuesday in the Lebanese capital of Beirut that killed Hamas’s deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri. Israel has not confirmed whether it was behind the bomb attack but a spokesperson has described it is a “surgical strike” on Hamas.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib has said his government has appealed to Hezbollah not to retaliate.

Israel has vowed to target Hamas, its leaders, fighters and infrastructure after the militant group attacked Israel on 7 October, killing almost 1,200 people and kidnapping about 240 civilians.

Since then, Israel has retaliated by pounding Gaza with bombs and sending in troops to go after Hamas. More than 22,000 people in Gaza have been killed since October, mostly civilians, and more than 1 million Palestinians, 85% of Gaza’s population, have been internally displaced.