Tue, Dec 17, 2013 - Page 7 News List

Israeli army retaliates after Lebanese shooting

‘SERIOUS INCIDENT’:UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urges Israel and Lebanon to exercise restraint following the killing of an Israeli soldier along the border

AP, JERUSALEM

Israel’s army says its troops have shot two Lebanese soldiers, hours after a Lebanese army sniper killed an Israeli soldier.

Israeli Army spokeswoman Lieutenant Libby Weiss says the shooting took place just after midnight yesterday.

She says the Israeli forces identified “suspicious movement” along the border and shot two members of Lebanon’s armed forces.

She says the shooting occurred near where a Lebanese army sniper killed an Israeli soldier late on Sunday.

Weiss had no details on the condition of the Lebanese soldiers.

The UN peacekeeping force along the Israel-Lebanon said it had no information about a shooting on Monday.

The shooting of the Israeli soldier late on Sunday near Rosh Hanikra raised the possibility of renewed fighting in the volatile area, which has remained mostly quiet since a month-long war in the summer of 2006.

Hezbollah, the guerrilla group that waged the war seven years ago, did not appear to be involved in Sunday’s shooting.

The Israeli army identified the killed soldier as Shlomi Cohen, 31, from the Israeli city of Afula.

Israeli army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said Israel had protested “this outrageous breach of Israel’s sovereignty” with UN peacekeeping forces and heightened its state of preparedness.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in statement that both sides were, “cooperating with the United Nations... to ascertain the facts,” and he urged both sides to exercise restraint.

Since the 2006 war, the border has experienced only sporadic violence. Israel has responded with airstrikes and artillery fire following a number of rocket attacks and shootings across the border.

In the most serious incident, a high-ranking Israeli officer was killed by a Lebanese sniper in 2010 after Israeli forces tried to cut down a tree along the border.

Israel responded with artillery fire, killing two Lebanese soldiers and a journalist.

Andrea Tenenti, a spokesman for UN forces in southern Lebanon, said the UN was informed of a “serious incident” along the border.

He said the peacekeeping force UNIFIL was in contact with both the Lebanese and Israeli armies, and that they were cooperating.

“The incident happened on the Israeli side of the blue line,” he said, referring to a UN-drawn line demarcating the border between the two enemy states. He gave no further details, saying UNIFIL was still investigating.

Hezbollah, which has an arsenal of tens of thousands of missiles and rockets aimed at Israel, is preoccupied with the war in neighboring Syria, where it is aiding the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Israeli officials believe Hezbollah is not interested in opening a new front with Israel at the current time.

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