The United Nations Peacekeeping force in Southern Lebanon (UNIFIL) on Tuesday confirmed there had been an "incident" between militants believed to be from the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah movement and an Italian patrol working in the UN peace mission in southern Lebanon last month. ( dpa )
The head of the UNIFIL force, Italian general Claudio Graziano, said that "a brief incident took place last month, while an Italian UN patrol was on a mission in southern Lebanon. It was a brief contact where the patrol suspected a car with some militants inside it."
Graziano said the incident on March 31 lasted only two minutes. He said the issue was discussed during a meeting earlier this month with representatives from the UN peace mission and the Lebanese army.
Earlier, Israeli reports on the incident had said Hezbollah militants scared off UNIFIL armed forces after the UN peacekeepers found a truck carrying arms and ammunition for the group.
The Haaretz newspaper, which quoted an unnamed source in Jerusalem, reported that the UNIFIL troops were on patrol and pulled the truck over. When they approached the vehicle, armed Hezbollah terrorists exited and threatened them at gunpoint. The UNIFIL troops returned to their cars and went back to their base.
The incident was kept secret at the time. It was mentioned in a report submitted to the UN Security Council by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the Israeli reports indicated.
According to UN Security Council Resolution 1701, Hezbollah is not allowed to enter the area in which the weapons shipment was found. The resolution ended 33-days of war between Hezbollah and Israel on August 2006.
According to Graziano, UNIFIL - made up of over 13,000 soldiers - conducts over 400 patrols daily and mans close to 200 observation posts throughout the area of operation, which covers 1,100 square kilometres from the Litani River in the north to the Blue Line border in the south.