TEL AVIV (Dec. 23)
Israel’s often tense relations with U.N. peacekeeping forces in southern Lebanon suffered further strains after Israel Defense Force artillery allegedly shelled a U.N. base near A-Turi on Sunday night.
The commander of the nine-nation United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon lodged a stiff protest. The commander of UNIFIL’s Irish battalion operating the base urged his government to register a diplomatic protest with Israel.
An IDF spokesman said Monday that the incident was being investigated and refused to give any details at this time.
UNIFIL charges that Israeli gunners opened fire on the U.N. encampment suddenly Sunday night, without provocation. One shell destroyed the mess hall and kitchen, which were empty at the time, UNIFIL said.
There were no casualties because the soldiers were asleep in a different building.
“This was the annual Israeli Christmas attack on our men,” the Irish commander was quoted as saying.
An Irish soldier was killed shortly before Christmas 1989 in cross fire during a shoot-out the IDF and its allied South Lebanon Army had with a guerrilla band in the southern Lebanon security zone.