BEIRUT: The head of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon on Tuesday warned that an escalation of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah could jeopardize a political solution to the conflict.
UNIFIL mission commander, Lt. Gen. Aroldo Lazaro Saenz, highlighted an “alarming shift in recent days in the exchange of fire along the southern Lebanese border,” adding that “the expansion and intensification of strikes” could hinder ceasefire negotiations.
His comments came a day after Israel targeted Hezbollah positions near the Lebanese city of Baalbek. Hezbollah hit back by firing dozens of missiles at the Meron air control base on Jabal Al-Jarmaq (Mount Meron).
Lazaro said that the ongoing exchanges between the Israeli army and Hezbollah had “claimed the lives of a very large number of people, caused severe damage to homes and public infrastructure, endangered livelihoods, and changed the lives of tens of thousands of civilians on both sides of the Blue Line.”
He added: “In recent days, we have continued our active work with the parties to reduce tensions and prevent dangerous misunderstandings, but recent events have the potential to jeopardize the political solution to this conflict.
“We urge all concerned parties to cease hostilities to prevent further escalation and leave room for a political, diplomatic solution that can restore stability and ensure the safety of people in this region.”
On Tuesday, Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati held talks with the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Joanna Wronecka to discuss the “mechanisms” for implementing a UN Security Council resolution calling for a full cessation of hostilities.
According to the PM’s media office, Wronecka urged “all parties to calm down and work toward diplomatic solutions.”
Israel’s mobile Iron Dome air-defense system intercepted several missiles fired by Hezbollah toward the Meron base. The Israeli army responded with a fighter-jet raid on the outskirts of Bissariye near Sidon, more than 50 km away from the Lebanese border. No casualties were reported. Warplanes also hit the towns of Jibchit, Mansouri, and Hanniyeh, where a woman was wounded.
An Israeli army spokesperson said: “Thirty-five rockets were fired from Lebanon toward Jabal Al-Jarmaq, but no damage or injuries occurred after targeting the air surveillance base.
“In response to these rockets, warplanes attacked a military site and several Hezbollah military infrastructures in southern Lebanon.”
The Meron air control facility sits atop Jabal Al-Jarmaq, the tallest mountain peak in northern Israel. It serves as the only hub for managing, monitoring, and controlling air traffic in the area, alongside Mitzpe Ramon in the south.
Hezbollah media reported that the Meron base focused on “arranging, coordinating, and overseeing all air activities toward Syria, Lebanon, Turkiye, Cyprus, and the northern region of the eastern Mediterranean Sea. It serves as a significant hub for electronic interference operations in these areas, and a large number of elite officers and soldiers work in this base.”
An exchange of artillery shelling between the two sides continued on Tuesday afternoon but was confined to an area south of the Litani River.
Meanwhile, the Israeli army at the Miskaf Am settlement shot at a bread van crossing a road near to a Lebanese army checkpoint. The driver and his wife escaped injured.