NEW YORK, 6th January, 2016 (WAM) — United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on Israel and Lebanon to maintain cessation of hostilities following attacks in the area of operations of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, UNIFIL.

“The UN Secretary-General has expressed his concern at the retaliatory strikes by the Israel Defence Forces across the Blue Line in southern Lebanon, in the area of operations of UNIFIL,” according to a statement issued by his spokesperson in New York.

Mr. Ban also condemned the recent attack against two Israel Defence Forces vehicles in the general area of the Sheba’a Farms south of the Blue Line, which was claimed by Hizbollah.

The so-called ‘Blue Line,’ or Line of Withdrawal, was established in the year 2000 to confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon in conformity with a Security Council resolution.

Meanwhile, UNIFIL and the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Sigrid Kaag, have taken immediate steps through contacts with the parties to help restore calm in the area. In a recent statement, they urged both sides to exercise utmost restraint to prevent any escalation.

“UNIFIL is investigating the circumstances of the incident in cooperation with the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israel Defence Forces,” added the statement, noting that Mr. Ban calls on all parties to maintain the cessation of hostilities and to ensure full respect for Security Council Resolution 1701, which imposed a ceasefire.

WAM/AAMIR/Moran