IDF Lt.-Col. Killed, another Officer Badly Hurt in North
IDF Lt.-Col. (res.) Dov Harari, a battalion commander, was killed Tuesday, and Captain (res.) Ezra Lakia was badly hurt in the exchange of fire between Lebanon Army and IDF forces early Tuesday afternoon. Lt. Col. Harari's funeral will take place at 4:00 P.M. Wednesday in the military plot of the Netanya Cemetery.
Captain Lakia is a company commander, and a resident of Kfar HaRif.
Near the scene of the firefight / Flash 90
Northern Command Head Major-General Gadi Eizenkut said the commanders were hurt in a sniper ambush and said: “It is our understanding that this was a planned provocation by the Lebanese Army that fired at a force that was inside Israeli territory without any provocation on our part.”
IDF sources said the IDF force was carrying out routine maintenance work when the Lebanese snipers opened fire, intentionally aiming at its commanders. Later on in the incident, Lebanese soldiers fired four rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) at an IDF tank, but missed their mark. The IDF fired at the soldiers and may have hit them.
Israel has blamed the Lebanese army for violating the United Nations ceasefire resolution and firing on IDF troops in Israeli territory, drawing a retaliation that killed three Lebanese soldiers and a civilian. Several other Lebanese were wounded.
Lt. Col. Harari on IDF mission to Poland / Courtesy IDF Spokesman
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said it holds the Lebanese government responsible for what it called a “grave incident” when the Lebanese army fired on the IDF while its troops were patrolling within the Blue Line that the UN has marked out as the international boundary.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman has instructed the Israeli diplomatic delegation to the United Nations to file a protest with the UN Secretary General and the Security Council. In a statement to media, he said that the IDF “was operating along the Lebanese border in coordination with UNIFIL.”
The Foreign Ministry added that the Lebanese fire was a severe violation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 34-day-old Second Lebanon War four summers ago.
Lebanon claimed that the Israelis were operating in its territory and were trying to uproot a tree that blocked a lookout on a Lebanese village. Lebanon also alleged its soldiers fired warning shots at the IDF, which allegedly responded with rocket-propelled grenades and tank fire.
Military spokesmen said that after the Lebanese army fired at Israeli soldiers, the IDF “immediately returned fire with light arms and made use of artillery fire. Several minutes later an Israel Air Force helicopter fired at the Lebanese army battalion command center, damaging several LAF armored combat vehicles.”
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi arrived at the border, where quiet has returned, but Lebanese Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri condemned what he called “Israeli aggression.”