UNIFIL force urges Israel, Lebanon to restraint after attacks
UNIFIL commander Major General Claudio Graziano urged maximum restraint.
The commander of a U.N. peacekeeping force urged Israel and Lebanon to exercise restraint after Israel fired eight shells into Lebanon following three rockets were fired into northern Israel from Lebanon on Wednesday.
The Lebanese government condemned the attack, the second launched from Lebanon against Israel since it began its offensive in the Gaza Strip on Dec. 27. Information Minister Tareq Mitri said it "gave Israel an excuse to harm the national interest".
The Lebanese political and military group Hezbollah, which has a minister in the government, did not immediately comment. The group, which fought against Israeli assault, a 34-day war, in 2006, denied any role in a similar attack last week. Israeli officials blamed smaller, armed Palestinian factions in Lebanon.
The Lebanese army and members of the U.N. peacekeeping force, known as UNIFIL, also defused three rockets rigged to launch an hour after they had been found, the army said in a statement. The rockets had been booby-trapped with explosives.
UNIFIL commander Major General Claudio Graziano urged maximum restraint. He was working with both Lebanon and Israel to maintain the cessation of hostilities, UNIFIL spokeswoman Yasmina Bouziane said in a statement.
There had been no claims of responsibility for the rocket attack, she said. Israel responded with two barrages of artillery fire.
There were no reports of damage or injury caused by the Israeli shells, she said. The rockets fired from Lebanon landed in open areas and caused no damage or injuries, she added.
"At present, we cannot confirm the exact location of the launch area," she said.
There have been no claims of responsibility for the Jan. 8 rocket attack from Lebanon.
The UNIFIL peacekeeping force was expanded as part of U.N. Security Council resolution 1701 which ended the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel.
Reuters Last Mod: 14 Ocak 2009, 14:59