Malaysian Peacekeepers in Lebanon on High Alert Amid Escalation in Gaza, Defense Minister Says
© AP Photo / Ariel SchalitUN peacekeepers (UNIFIL) seen along the Lebanese side of the border with Israel, seen from Israel, Thursday, July 6, 2023.
© AP Photo / Ariel Schalit
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - On October 7, Palestinian movement Hamas launched a surprise rocket attack against Israel and breached the border, killing and abducting people in neighboring Israeli communities. Amid the escalation, the Israeli Defense Forces and paramilitary Lebanese organization Hezbollah have been exchanging cross-border fire regularly.
The Malaysian peacekeepers within the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) are kept on high alert in case the contingent needs to be deployed to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict zone, Malaysian Defense Minister Mohamad Hasan said on Tuesday.
"Regarding the conflict in Palestine, as of now, the UN has not made any decision to send peacekeepers to Palestine. Nevertheless, the Defence Ministry, through the Malaysian Battalion (Malbatt) serving under UNIFIL remains on high alert," the defense minister was quoted by Malaysian newspaper New Straits Times as saying during a parliamentary session.
He also said that deploying foreign troops to a conflict zone is never an easy decision and always requires "a clear mandate from the United Nations."
"The ministry is closely monitoring the developments in Palestine and is ready to provide full cooperation to the Foreign Ministry if needed, both for the evacuation of Malaysian citizens in the affected areas and to ensure the safety of Malbatt members in Southern Lebanon," the minister said.
Mohamad said Malaysia is ready to support global peace initiatives under the auspices of the UN. Right now the country is actively engaged in five international UN missions, including the one in Lebanon since 2007, the newspaper reported.
On October 7, Palestinian movement Hamas launched a surprise large-scale rocket attack against Israel from the Gaza Strip and breached the border, killing and abducting people in neighboring Israeli communities. Israel launched retaliatory strikes and ordered a complete blockade of the Gaza Strip, home to more than 2 million people, cutting off supplies of water, food, and fuel. The escalation of the conflict has resulted in thousands of people killed and injured on both sides.
Since mid-October, the IDF and Hezbollah have been exchanging cross-border fire regularly. In the wake of flaring tensions, acting Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati told Sputnik that authorities were working on maintaining the calm situation inside the country amid the Palestinian-Israeli escalation and stoking fears over Hezbollah opening a northern front.