Latest Developments

A Lebanese judge investigating the December 2022 killing of an Irish peacekeeper serving in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) filed an indictment on June 2 against five of the perpetrators who are members of either Iran-backed Hezbollah or its ally, Amal. The 30-page document submitted by the judge, Fadi Sawan, relied on footage from surveillance cameras, audio recordings, and witness testimonies from the scene. Some men in the footage used walkie-talkies to communicate and could be heard identifying themselves as Hezbollah.

Expert Analysis

“Hezbollah’s supremacy in Lebanon is such that it has no problem handing over individuals to the judiciary in certain circumstances. It did so, for example, when one of its members shot down — supposedly by accident — a Lebanese Army helicopter in 2008, killing its pilot. The individual was released after serving 10 months. Ultimately, none of the political noise surrounding this case will matter, nor will it alter Hezbollah’s posture toward UNIFIL or the latter’s failed mandate.” Tony Badran, FDD Research Fellow

Mob Attack

The accused Hezbollah and Amal members ambushed a two-vehicle convoy of UNIFIL near the southern Lebanese village of Al-Aqbiya on December 14, 2022, shooting and killing 23-year-old Irish Pvt. Sean Rooney and injuring others. Before the attack, the convoy was traveling on a routine mission to Beirut on a road running along the Mediterranean Sea outside of where UNIFIL normally operates. Hezbollah media official Mohammad Afif said that the men named in the indictment are not affiliated with the organization. The Amal movement, led by Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, has not commented.

Judge’s Previous Investigation of Hezbollah

Sawan had previously led the investigation into the August 2020 Beirut port explosion — the largest non-nuclear explosion in history — that killed 200 people. A Lebanese court removed Sawan from the case in February 2021 after he charged three former ministers and the outgoing prime minister with negligence. All three were affiliated with the Amal party or Hezbollah. Two of the three ministers charged by Sawan accused him of overstepping his powers. Human rights organizations criticized Sawan’s removal as a mockery of justice.

UNIFIL Peacekeepers Come Under Fire in Southern Lebanon, Hezbollah Denies Involvement,” by Joe Truzman

Death of UNIFIL Soldier Reflects Hezbollah’s Continuing Impunity in Lebanon,” FDD Flash Brief

UN Peacekeepers Let Hezbollah Call the Shots,” by Tony Badran

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