TEL AVIV (Feb. 21)
Israel apologized Tuesday for wounding two Norwegian soldiers of the U.N. peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon.
The Israel Defense Force expressed “sincere regrets” over the incident, which occurred Saturday near Blatt village in the eastern sector of the southern Lebanon security zone.
According tow the IDF, and Israeli patrol opened fire on suspicious figures moving in the area. They turned out to be Norwegian soldiers of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon on a patrol of their own.
According to UNIFIL headquarters, Israeli tanks near Ayshaya village fired two rounds at a range of less than four miles, which hit the Norwegian soldiers.
Maj. Gen. Yossi Peled, commander of the northern sector, has ordered an inquiry into the incident. It will be headed by an IDF colonel.
Relations have been tense for some time between the IDF and the Norwegian battalion attached to UNIFIL.
A near diplomatic incident developed earlier this month when the Israeli Foreign Ministry demanded that UNIFIL remove the commander of the Norwegian battalion, Col. Jan Carlsson.
Carlsson had been quoted as likening the behavior of IDF troops toward Lebanese villagers to the Nazi occupiers of Norway during World War II.
Prior to that, several Norwegian soldiers had been wounded as a result of actions by the IDF or its allied South Lebanon Army.
Speaking of Saturday night’s occurrence, and IDF officer said, “We are sincerely sorry about the incident. We are especially sorry that Norwegian soldiers have been hurt again.”