U.N. Peacekeeping Force Protests Wounding Of Two Soldiers
JERUSALEM (AP) _ The United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon said two of its Norwegian soldiers were wounded today by Israeli tank fire.
The Israeli military command acknowledged the shootings and said it was investigating.
Timur Goksel, spokesman for the 5,800-member United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, said the men were wounded before dawn near the southern Lebanese village of Kaoukaba, six miles north of the Israeli border.
He said a tank at a nearby Israeli position fired three rounds of artillery over a Norwegian armored personnel carrier that was patrolling the area.
Two Norwegian soldiers were slightly wounded when the first of two rounds exploded in the air over the armored personnel carrier, Goksel said, adding both men were treated at a U.N. hospital in Naqoura.
Goksel said peacekeeping force commander Maj. Gen. Gustav Haggelund strongly protested to the Israeli army’s head of northern command, Maj. Gen. Yossi Peled. ″We have told the Israeli army this incident was completely uncalled for,″ Goksel said by telephone.
The Israeli army released a statement saying its soldiers fired ″after midnight when an IDF (Israeli army) unit noticed suspicious movement near the border of the security zone.″
″The force opened fire on the moving figures,″ the command’s statement said. ″It turned out that the IDF fired on UNIFIL troops who were moving by foot without the knowledge of our forces in the area.″
The Israeli statement said one peacekeeper was wounded in the arm and the other in the leg. Both were treated by an Israeli doctor, the statement said.
The U.N. troops were deployed to facilitate an Israeli troop withdrawal from Lebanon after an Israeli invasion in 1978.
Israel invaded Lebanon again in 1982, and established a 6- to 10-mile security zone in southern Lebanon when it withdrew the bulk of its troops three years later. The zone is patrolled by Israeli troops and a 1,000-member Israeli-backed Lebanese militia called the South Lebanon Army.