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Israel Accused of Attacking UN Peacekeeping Patrol in Southern Lebanon, Raising Fears of Escalating Violence in the Region

Allegations have arisen that Israel launched an assault on a United Nations peacekeeping patrol during a ceasefire in southern Lebanon, sparking fears of intensifying hostilities in the region.

On Saturday, the Israeli military was accused by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon of assaulting a peacekeeping patrol.

The incident, which took place during a temporary truce between Israel and Hamas, occurred at around midday, near the Lebanese village of Aytaroun on the border with Israel and 125 kilometers from the Lebanese capital, Beirut.

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) reported that the incident took place during a time of relative peace and stability along the Blue Line, which marks the border between Israel and Lebanon.

At approximately 12 pm today, a UNIFIL patrol was struck by IDF gunfire in the area surrounding Aytaroun, located in southern Lebanon, according to a statement released by the UN peacekeepers.

Since the outbreak of hostilities bewteen Israel and Hamas in October, the border between Israel and Lebanon has been the site of recurrent clashes, primarily involving the Israeli military and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. According to AFP, these exchanges have resulted in the deaths of 109 individuals in Lebanon, including 77 Hezbollah fighters and 14 civilians, among whom were three journalists.

Last month UNIFIL, which was created by the UN Security Council in 1978 to observe Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon, said that one of its members was injured in an artillery strike on the mission's base near the village of Houla on the border.
Following the announcement of the four-day Gaza truce on Friday, Hezbollah said it would adhere to the terms of the ceasefire if Israel did, according to a Hezbollah source cited by Al Jazeera.

The United Nations peacekeeping mission expressed severe disapproval of the attack that occurred on Saturday, describing it as "profoundly disquieting" and appealing to all parties involved in the conflict to "protect peacekeepers." In a statement issued the previous day, UNIFIL cautioned that an upsurge in violence in southern Lebanon could have "catastrophic consequences" and urged all sides to "break this cycle of aggression."

Israel has remained silent regarding the event. Formerly, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) declared that they were attacking Hezbollah's assets as a retaliatory measure against rockets launched into northern Israel.

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