BEIRUT: MP Antoine Zahra, a key member of Samir Geagea’s Lebanese Forces party, expressed regret at the loss of life during Sunday’s confrontation at the border town of Maroun al-Ras, but placed the blame on U.N. peacekeepers and the Lebanese Army for the deadly violence at the border between Israeli troops and pro-Palestinian protesters.
“The U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon and the Lebanese Army are responsible for allowing protesters to reach the barbed wire fence separating the Lebanese-Israeli border and resulting in death and injuries,” Zahra told The Daily Star Tuesday.
He added that his views were personal and did not reflect those of the March 14 alliance. The Lebanese Forces is a key member of the pro-government March 14 coalition.
Thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators were caught in clashes with the Israeli army Sunday as protests across Israel’s borders with Syria, Lebanon and Jordan were met with live fire.
At least 11 people were killed when Israeli forces opened fire on protesters who had marched to the Lebanese-Israeli border to mark the 63rd anniversary of the “Nakba.”
UNIFIL deputy spokesperson Andrea Tenenti confirmed that the force had begun an investigation into Sunday’s incident, which also left more than 100 protesters wounded.
“At the moment, we have started an investigation to ascertain the facts. For most of the issues, we can only talk about them after the investigation is completed. It was a tragic incident,” Tenenti told The Daily Star.
“The Lebanese Army was in charge of the situation and responsible for law and order in the area, as they always are. UNIFIL worked with them and we were in regular contact with them throughout the day,” he added.