Incidents such as the exchange of gunfire that took place across the Israeli-Lebanese border earlier this week must be avoided, the United Nations envoy for Lebanon has stressed, warning that they can easily flare up into something more dangerous.
“We cannot afford any incidents like this,” Michael Williams, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, told reporters in Beirut yesterday following his meeting with Prime Minister Najib Mikati.
“You can go from an incident like this to war within a few hours,” he added. “That is the reality.”
On Monday, the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) exchanged fire along the so-called Blue Line that separates the two countries, in the general area of Wazzani. The UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, is investigating the incident.
Respect for the Blue Line is one of the key provisions of Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the conflict that erupted in 2006 between Israel and the Lebanese group Hizbollah.
“This was a very disturbing incident. The good thing is that nobody was injured it seems on either side,” said Mr. Williams.
The envoy and the Prime Minister also discussed the bomb attack on UNIFIL on 26 July. Five peacekeepers were injured in the incident, which took place near Saida, also known as Sidon, 55 kilometres north of the UNIFIL base at Naqoura.
“It is imperative that the Lebanese Government take concrete and firm action on this,” Mr. Williams said, adding that the perpetrators of this attack and the previous attack on 27 May must be found and brought to justice.