UN chief condemns Lebanon rockets fired into Israel, calls for 'restraint'

AFP , Thursday 6 Apr 2023

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned a barrage of rockets fired from Lebanon toward Israel, his spokesman said Thursday, calling on "all actors to exercise maximum restraint."

UN Chief
File photo: United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres. AFP


"We condemn the multiple rockets being fired from Lebanon into northern Israel today," Stephane Dujarric told reporters.

Dujarric said the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon was in contact with authorities on both sides and urged all parties to "avoid any unilateral action that could further escalate the situation."

Israel has accused Palestinian groups of firing rockets from Lebanon, just over a day after Israeli police stormed into the prayer halls of Al-Aqsa Mosque -- the third-holiest site in Islam -- attacking and forcefully removing Palestinian worshippers during their overnight prayers.

On Wednesday night, Israeli police raided the mosque, firing stun grenades and rubber bullets to evict worshippers who had locked the doors of the building. Palestinians hurled stones at officers.

After a few hours of scuffles that left a trail of damage, police managed to drag everyone out of the compound, the AP reported. On Tuesday night, the same tensions ended with police fiercely beating Palestinians and arresting over 400 people, they added.

Israeli authorities control access to the area but the compound is administered by Islamic and Jordanian officials.

Israel's army said it had "identified 34 rockets that were fired from Lebanese territory into Israeli territory" -- the largest escalation along the frontier since Israel and Lebanon fought a 34-day war in 2006.

At the end of an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council requested Wednesday by the United Arab Emirates and Japan after the attack of the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, several council members echoed concern over escalation.

Security Council "members are clearly united in the need for de-escalation and calm in the region," said Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, the UAE ambassador to the UN, though the 15 members did not adopt any text or common position in the meeting.

"This is the holy month for the three religions. Escalation is not in anybody's interest," Nusseibeh added.

Russian ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzia said the council agreed to continue discussing the issue, "perhaps to come up with something more substantial." He clarified he was not speaking on behalf of the council as its current president.

"The escalation that we're witnessing is dangerous," he said.

"Further escalation would not help resolving the current situation in Jerusalem, which in our view, is the precursor of what happens later. These issues are all related," he added.

Deputy US ambassador Robert Wood said there were diplomatic efforts underway "to try to reduce the tensions and stop the violence and that's what the goal should be for everyone."

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