Israeli and Lebanese troops exchanged fire on their often-tense border yesterday morning, officials on both sides said, with the two armies trading accusations on why the shooting incident occurred.
The Israeli military said its troops had been fired upon as they worked on the Israeli side of the Blue Line, the UN-drawn border with Lebanon.
However, a Lebanese army official said troops opened fire only when Israeli soldiers crossed the border line, which was established in 2000.
Both sides have challenged the accuracy of the Blue Line in several locations.
“Earlier this morning, an IDF [Israel Defense Forces] force carrying out a routine patrol within Israeli territory near the Israel-Lebanon border was fired upon from the direction of Lebanon,” an Israeli military spokeswoman said.
“The force responded by firing towards the source of fire and UNIFIL was informed of the incident,” she added, referring to the UN peacekeeping force stationed on the Israeli-Lebanese border.
One Israeli military source said the incident occurred near the Dan kibbutz in the far north of Israel as troops carried out work on a border fence.
Another stressed that “Israel’s interest at this time is to contain the situation and maintain the calm on the border.”
A Lebanese army official, who declined to be identified, said the incident occurred early yesterday when “an Israeli patrol in the Wazzani area crossed the Blue Line and went beyond it about 30m.”
“Lebanese troops stationed in the area fired warning shots,” he said. “The Israeli patrol retreated and then fired at Lebanese army posts.”
He said there were no injuries on the Lebanese side and that UNIFIL was informed of the incident and quickly moved to the area.
The incident came almost exactly a year after Lebanese and Israeli troops traded fire along the tense border, leaving two Lebanese soldiers and a journalist killed along with a senior Israeli officer.
The flare-up in violence was the worst clash between the two sides since Israel’s devastating 2006 war in Lebanon against the Shiite Hezbollah militia.