UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) issued a warning that any potential military escalation in southern Lebanon involving Israel and Hezbollah must be halted.
It came after an Israeli airstrike in south Lebanon killed a woman and three children.
Andrea Tenenti, a UNIFIL spokesperson, said: “Any civilian death is a tragedy. No one wants to see more people hurt or killed.”
Tenenti added: “We urge everyone to cease fire now to prevent more people from being hurt.”
The Israeli attack led to the death of Samira Abdel Hussein Ayoub and her three granddaughters, Remas Mahmoud Shor, 14, Talin Mahmoud Shor, 12, and Layan Mahmoud Shor, 10.
At the request of the Education Ministry, Lebanese students observed a minute’s silence in their schools on Monday as a tribute to the slain children.
The Israel Defense Forces reportedly targeted two civilian cars with a drone on a road between the towns of Aitaroun and Aainata.
The girls’ mother, Hoda Abdel-Nabi Hejazi, who was driving the first car, is in hospital after undergoing surgery to treat her injuries.
Her brother — a journalist — was injured in the second car.
UNIFIL witnessed intense firing across the Blue Line on Sunday, Tenenti said.
“We have heard tragic reports of four civilians, three young girls, and a woman being killed in the vicinity of Aitaroun in south Lebanon.
“We remind all the parties involved that attacks against civilians are a violation of international law that may amount to war crimes.”
Lebanese leaders condemned the “massacre of children and civilians,” and Beirut filed a complaint with the UN Security Council over the killings.
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said: “This is a heinous crime and a new disgrace on the global conscience that turns a blind eye to what the Israeli occupation is doing in southern Lebanon and Gaza.”
Caretaker Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib said: “It is a war crime that reflects Israel’s policy of deliberately targeting families, children, medics, and journalists.”
A correspondent in the border area told Arab News: “The shelling targeted an ordinary road on which civilian cars pass in a place whose residents are considered well-off given the mansions and villas built there.
“The road is exposed to Israeli positions, but it is far from the Blue Line.
“It is incomprehensible why the two cars were targeted, especially since today, Monday, there is traffic on the same road, and no car was targeted.”
While the displacement of Lebanese civilians from the southern border areas toward areas north of the Litani River continued, UK authorities decided to reduce the number of embassy staff in Lebanon.
The evacuation of foreign and dual nationals from Lebanon continued after 30 days of war in the Gaza Strip and tension in southern Lebanon.
Hezbollah responded to the killing of the Lebanese family by targeting the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Shmona with Grad rockets.
Hezbollah stressed in a statement that it “will never tolerate any harm or aggression against civilians. The retaliation will be resolute and powerful.”
Hezbollah targeted Israeli military sites with guided missiles on Sunday night.
The IDF responded with artillery fire in the vicinity of the missile launch areas. Israeli shelling also struck the border town of Naqoura on Monday morning.
Since Oct. 8, the Blue Line has witnessed military operations during which Hezbollah targeted Israeli positions.
The IDF shelled Lebanese border villages and towns, violating the Litani Line in its aggression, extending its raids, artillery, and drone flights northwards.
Before Sunday’s assault, there had been an Israeli attack on ambulances near the town of Qabrikha early on Sunday, injuring four members of the Civil Defense who were inside.
These incidents could potentially escalate the confrontation in southern Lebanon. The rules of engagement agreed upon after the issue of the UN Resolution 1701 in 2006 stipulate that “any response will be met with a similar response.”
An IDF spokesperson, however, told Reuters last month that “the rules of engagement stipulate that anyone approaching the border shall be fired upon.”
Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah threatened Israel in his recent Friday address to “restore the equation of a civilian for a civilian.”
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said: “What happened confirms beyond doubt that Israel, at the military and political levels — not to mention its heritage minister, who called for the use of a nuclear bomb against the Palestinian people in Gaza — all fall within a single context that represents an example of organized state terrorism.”