Lebanese civilians hurt 14 UNIFIL troops

Residents prevent soldiers from inspecting alleged arms cache; UNIFIL: Incident a violation of 1701.

nasrallah 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
nasrallah 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Villagers in southern Lebanon on Saturday prevented UN peacekeepers from searching an abandoned building near a suspected Hizbullah weapons depot that exploded last week, a Lebanese security official said. The official said dozens of men in Bir e-Salasel surrounded UNIFIL vehicles on Saturday and ordered the peacekeepers to leave. Fourteen UNIFIL men were wounded when some 100 locals attacked them, Israel Radio reported. When the troops called for backup, the villagers fired at the reinforcements. The village is close to Khirbat a-Silm, the site of Tuesday's explosion in an abandoned building about 15 km. from Israel. UN peacekeepers had no immediate comment on the incident in the Nabatiya governate, and Hizbullah has remained silent since the explosion. On Friday, UNIFIL boosted its forces along the Israeli border, hours after 15 Lebanese civilians carrying Lebanese and Hizbullah flags crossed into Israel. The group, which included several children, entered Israel in an area where there is no border fence, and returned to Lebanon after several minutes. IDF soldiers spotted the group, and seeing it was unarmed, decided not to take action. Nonetheless, the army stressed that the incident was a violation of Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the Second Lebanon War. "Any individual who crosses the border must consider the possibility of getting hurt," the IDF said in a statement. Earlier Friday, Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah accused Israel of being "a racist state." In a televised speech, he said Israel had been "placed at the heart" of the Middle East, and decried its "respect from the whole world." "The whole world expresses its understanding of [Israel's] brutality, and its killing of thousands," he went on. "The G-8, the UN Security Council and the entire world express their understanding" for what he called Israeli abuses. Meanwhile, Kuwaiti's A-Siyassa newspaper reported on Saturday that last week's explosion killed a number of Hizbullah gunmen at a secret military outpost, and did not destroy a hidden weapons cache as was initially believed. "The geographical layout of the area where the outpost was situated, as well as its relative proximity to the border proves that it could not be an arms depot, but rather an outpost on the front lines," a military source defined as "credible" told the paper. On Wednesday, the army released video footage taken from an IAF aircraft, showing a home that was destroyed in Tuesday's blast in Khirbat a-Silm. The roof has dozens of holes, which IDF ballistic experts said were the size of 122-mm. Katyusha rockets. However, the Kuwaiti paper said the weapons that exploded in the area included short-range anti-tank missiles, and anti-tank mines. It did not mention longer range rockets.•