Ban urges restraint after attack on Israel border

New York, Dec 30 : United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged maximum restraint by all sides after Sunday's rocket attack on Israel from southern Lebanon, which was then followed by artillery fire from the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).

According to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), two rockets fired from the general area of El Khiam in southern Lebanon around 7 a.m. local time and impacted in the vicinity of Kiryat Shimona in northern Israel. The IDF returned 32 rounds of artillery fire directed at the area from where the rockets had originated.

No casualties or damage have been reported from either side, and there has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the rocket attack. UNIFIL, in cooperation with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), is investigating the incident.

"The Secretary-General appreciates the cooperation of both the Lebanese and Israeli authorities with UNIFIL's efforts to prevent further escalation of this incident, as well as their continued commitment to the cessation of hostilities along the Blue Line [Israeli-Lebanese border]," Ban's spokesperson said in a statement.

"The Secretary-General urges all actors to exercise maximum restraint and prevent further incidents with destabilizing and escalatory potential in the region."

UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Paolo Serra, who was immediately in contact with counterparts in the LAF and IDF commands, has also urged the parties to exercise maximum restraint to prevent any escalation of the situation.

"This is a very serious incident in violation of UN Security Council resolution 1701 and is clearly directed at undermining stability in the area," Maj.-Gen. Serra said, referring to the resolution which ended the 2006 war between Israel and the Lebanese group Hizbollah.

"UNIFIL's first imperative is to ensure that there is no further escalation of the situation and I have been assured by the parties of their full cooperation with UNIFIL in this effort and of their continued commitment to the cessation of hostilities."

He added that UN peacekeepers on the ground are working with the LAF to reinforce security and locate the rocket launching site. UNIFIL has also intensified its patrols across its area of operations to prevent any further incidents.

Established in 1978, UNIFIL is tasked with ensuring that the area between the Blue Line and the Litani River is free of unauthorized weapons, personnel and assets. It also cooperates with the LAF so they can fulfil their security responsibilities.

--IBNS (Posted on 30-12-2013)

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