UN says International Mine Removal Experts Seriously Injured in Southern Lebanon by Recently-Placed Israeli Anti-Personnel Mine

Three United Nations mine-disposal experts were seriously injured in southern Lebanon on Friday 24 November by what the experts say were shiny new Israeli No. 4 Anti-Personnel Land-Mines laid recently, during Israel’s invasion last July and August. A Briton and a Bosnian expert each had to have feet amputated as a result of the injuries they suffered from the explosion. A Lebanese medic working with the team also was injured.

It was first thought that the three men were injured by cluster bomb remnants. But, a British team of demining experts sent to investigate on Saturday discovered they were in a mine field, and a fourth international expert was injured, and apparently also had to have one of his feet amputed, too.

The area was not marked for mines.

Israel also laid land-mines when it withdrew from Lebanon in May 2004, after an 18-year occupation of a strip of Southen Lebanon. Since then, Lebanon has repeatedly called for Israel to turn over maps showing the location of the mines it planted.

UN Security Council Resolution 1701, adopted on 11 August 2006, called on Israel to provide to the United Nations “all remaining maps of landmines in Lebanon in Israel’s possession.”

The UN Mine Action Coordination Centre in Southern Lebanon reports that as of 13 November it has mapped 813 Cluster Bomb strikes in 338 areas of southern Lebanon, delivered by rockets, artillery, or aircraft. The UN map of Cluster Bomb strikes is updated regularly, and can be found at www.unmaccsl.org

So far, the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre (UN MACC-SL) says, there have been 23 civilian fatalities and 140 injuries from all types of unexploded ordinance left over from the last summer’s invasion. It estimates that it will take 12 to 15 months to clear unexploded bomblets. http://www.mineaction.org/overview.asp?o=540

At UNHQ in NY on Monday and Tuesday 27-28 November, the UN Spokesman tried to get journalists interested in this sitaution:

“I was asked yesterday about the mines in southern Lebanon. In follow-up to the question as to where these mines came from, I was given this information by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations: The area where the mine incidents took place in Deir Mimas has yet to be subjected to a full-scale mine clearance. Once this is completed, the exact scope of the minefield will be known. During the operation to extract the casualties from the minefield, one No. 4 anti-personnel mine, which is manufactured in Israel was located by the clearance team. From the condition of the mine and the earth surrounding the mine, it is clear that the mine was laid recently. Prior to the conflict, the area in question had been actively used by local villagers [n.b., for agriculture, for tending their flocks, and for just living]. Once the results of the clearance activities are completed, as well as ongoing cooperative efforts with Israel to confirm details regarding the mine, further information will be provided. And there is today a meeting scheduled between UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon). the Lebanese Armed Forces, and the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) to discuss the issue of mines. But I don’t yet have a read-out of that meeting”…

Question from a journalist: This minefield in Deir Mimas in Southern Lebanon, did the Israelis provide any maps? Are they willing to privide any maps?

Spokesman: “There have been several meetings with the Israelis since their almost complete withdrawal from Southern Lebanon on the issue of mines. I understand they have provided us with some maps. We’re obviously going to talk with them about this particular mine. The mine was manufactured in Israel, but as we all know, weapons, mines, flow across borders the world over. So just the manufacture of the mine doesn’t always clearly indicate who may have laid that mine. What we do know is that the mine was manufactured in Israel, that it was recently laid…Who actually put the mine in this area we are not able to opine on.

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