Aussie UN military observer injured in Israel, Lebanon border blast


United Nations military observers in southern Lebanon have been injured in an explosion, including one Australian.

The incident happened at a town called Rmeish near the ‘Blue Line’ – the Israel/Lebanon border.

UN military observers are unarmed, and the group – from Australia, Chile and Norway – were with a Lebanese language assistant on a foot patrol along the border.

The Australian was treated for non-life threatening blast injuries at a military base and has now been released from the base to recover.

United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon spokesman Andrea Tenenti said the wounded were evacuated in a stable condition.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the safety and security of peacekeepers must be ensured at all times.

That area of the Blue Line has seen daily exchanges of fire since October 8 between non-state armed groups based in Lebanon, and the Israel Defence Forces, Mr Guterres said.

Agence France-Presse reported Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency said an “enemy (Israeli) drone” raided the Rmeish area of southern Lebanon where the UN observers were wounded.

The Israeli army told AFP in a statement: “We did not strike in the area.”

Cross-border fire since October has killed at least 347 people in Lebanon, mostly Hezbollah fighters, but also at least 68 civilians, the AFP reports.

“An uptick in deadly exchanges in recent days has fuelled concerns of an all-out conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, who last fought a war in 2006,” the AFP reports.

The office of Foreign Minister Penny Wong directed question to the Australian Defence Force.

An ADF spokesperson said the ADF member was wounded while deployed on Operation Paladin in Lebanon, as part of Australia’s contribution to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation.

The group were on a routine patrol to monitor activity near the Israeli- Lebanon border.

“The member sustained non-life threatening blast injuries, was transported to a health centre at a nearby military base for treatment and has now been released to recover,” the spokesperson said.

“Defence is taking the appropriate steps to ensure the safety and welfare of the member.”