BEIRUT, Lebanon, Aug. 2 (UPI) — U.N. officials warned Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati that border skirmishes with Israel would easily escalate into full blown war.
The U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon said all was “quiet” after a “brief exchange” of gunfire Monday between Israeli and Lebanese forces along the so-called Blue Line separating the countries.
Michael Williams, U.N. special envoy to Lebanon, said following talks with Mikati that border skirmishes like Monday’s weren’t good for regional security.
“This was a very disturbing incident,” he was quoted by The Daily Star newspaper in Lebanon as saying. “You can go from an incident like this to war within a few hours. That is the reality.”
Fighting broke out along the border last August when Lebanese soldiers accused Israelis of crossing into their territory. A UNIFIL investigation confirmed Israeli contentions that their forces didn’t cross international borders.
Six members of the French contingent were injured of UNIFIL by a roadside bomb last week and six Italians were wounded in a similar incident in May.
Mikati said Israel should be reprimanded for border aggressions.
“Lebanon is determined to defend its rights and preserve its sovereignty via all legitimate means,” he was quoted as saying. “The international community should deter Israel from violating Lebanese sovereignty and violating Lebanon’s legitimate rights.”