BEIRUT — UNIFIL's Head of Mission Maj. Gen. Aroldo Lazaro expressed concern Wednesday about "an increase in tension" along the Lebanese-Israeli border amid a series of cross-border fire incidents in recent months.
Lazaro's comments came as he chaired a tripartite meeting with senior Lebanese and Israeli military officers at a UN site in Ras Naqoura, South Lebanon.
He urged the two sides to "continue to benefit from UNIFIL's coordination mechanisms while avoiding unilateral actions,” in comments published by the state-run National News Agency. He also called for "participation in the Blue Line discussions to address outstanding issues, highlighting the importance of positive signals from both parties before the Security Council considers renewing UNIFIL's mandate."
UNIFIL's mandate is renewed annually at the end of August.
Tensions have risen at the Lebanese-Israeli borders this past summer. Hezbollah set up tents near the disputed and annexed village of Ghajar, Israeli forces launched rockets toward Lebanon after mortar fire from the Lebanese side, and a handful of Lebanese MPs and journalists were targeted by Israeli teargas along the border
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen threatened to "take Lebanon back to the Stone Age" and lashed out at Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah, calling him "weak" and "hiding like a rat in the cellar," in an interview with Saudi newspaper Elaph published on Aug. 6.
In a televised speech on Monday, Nasrallah responded to the Israeli threats: "If Israel declares war on Lebanon, it will be reduced to the Stone Age."