UN Vindicates Israel in Lebanese Border Clash
The United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has contradicted Lebanese claims that the IDF drew enemy fire Monday morning by allegedly crossing the border, one year after a similar incident killed Israeli officer Dov Hariri, three Lebanese soldiers and a journalist.
Lebanon blamed Israel both last year and this year for allegedly crossing the border, charges that UNIFIL again has rejected. Tension reigns at the border, where both Lebanese and Israel always have an eye out for any suspicious activity. Both last year and this year, Lebanese soldiers pressed the trigger based on their view that Israel soldiers had violated their territory.
The international peace-keeping operation nevertheless tried to keep an even hand and blamed Israel for overreacting. Contrary to initial reports, the Lebanese soldier who shot and missed hitting Israeli soldiers was not wounded.
Lebanon accused Israel of causing a “provocation,” and its president Michel Suleiman stated,. "The Israeli enemy tried again to revert back to attacks and provocations in the Wazani region, but you stood guard.” It said Israel has crossed the border.
UNIFIL Spokesman Neeraj Singh said that several UN vehicles immediately responded to the exchange in gunfire to prevent an escalation.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, "Israel is not seeking to heat up the border. The soldiers behaved as they were supposed to. They were supposed to defend themselves."
Monday morning’s clash occurred one day before Lebanese celebrates Army Day and less than a week after an explosion in southern Lebanon wounded six French troops of UNIFIL.