Ireland

Irish peacekeepers involved in medical response following Lebanon blast

The origin of the explosion that injured three UN military observers and an interpreter is under investigation.

The men and women of the 123rd Infantry Battalion at Kilkenny Castle, prior to their departure for a six-month deployment to Lebanon as part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.
United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon The men and women of the 123rd Infantry Battalion at Kilkenny Castle, prior to their departure for a six-month deployment to Lebanon as part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. (Niall Carson/PA)

Irish peacekeepers have been involved in treating those injured in an explosion near a UN military patrol in Lebanon.

Three UN military observers and a Lebanese interpreter were injured in the blast near Rmeish on the southern Lebanon border on Saturday. None were Irish.

The observers work for the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation, which supports the UN’s long-standing peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon (Unifil).

Local media blamed the explosion on an Israeli drone – a claim disputed by Israel.

There has been an escalation of clashes between the Israeli Defence Forces and Hezbollah militants in recent weeks.

The Irish military has long been involved in the Unifil operation in Lebanon.

In 2022, Irish peacekeeper Private Sean Rooney was killed while serving in Lebanon when his convoy was attacked.

There are currently 333 Irish soldiers from the 123rd Infantry Battalion serving in Unifil and 12 serving in UNTSO.

The Defence Forces confirmed no Irish personnel were injured during Saturday morning’s incident.

“Our thoughts are with the injured parties, their comrades and their families,” said a Defence Forces statement.

It said the casualties were triaged, stabilised and treated by Defence Forces medical personnel in the Irish Camp UNP 2-45.

Irish personnel then coordinated the evacuation of one patient by helicopter to Beirut.

The remaining three patients were transported by the 123rd battalion using the Irish armoured ambulance and armoured personnel carriers (APCs) to a hospital in the city of Tyre.

Unifil spokesman Andrea Tenenti said the origin of the explosion was under investigation.

“Safety and security of UN personnel must be guaranteed,” he said.

“All actors have a responsibility under international humanitarian law to ensure protection to non-combatants, including peacekeepers, journalists, medical personnel, and civilians.

“We repeat our call for all actors to cease the current heavy exchanges of fire before more people are unnecessarily hurt.”