Watchman Newsletter

UNIFIL: IDF troops didn�t cross border

YNet News (Link) - Hanan Greenberg (August 1, 2011)

UNIFIL said Monday that Lebanese fire on IDF troops earlier in the day was uncalled for, and that the latter had not crossed into Lebanese territory, as the country�s army had claimed. The facts did not stop the Lebanese president from rebuking Israel for �provocation,� however.

On Monday morning Lebanese soldiers opened fire on Israeli soldiers patrolling the border, who returned fire. Lebanese news agencies reported at first that a Lebanese soldier was hurt during the exchanges of fire, but UNIFIL Spokesman Neeraj Singh later refuted the claims.

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman praised the army for its conduct. Suleiman blamed Israel for repeated aggression and provocation against his country. �The Israeli enemy tried again to revert back to attacks and provocations in the Wazani region, but you stood guard,� he told the troops.

A preliminary investigation by UNIFIL, which was forwarded to the IDF, shows that Lebanese forces opened fire because they thought the IDF soldiers had crossed the border.

But IDF sources are insisting that the Israeli troops remained on their side. They say a Paratroopers force was on vehicular patrol when suddenly they were fired upon, and returned fire with their rifles.

Immediately afterwards the army filed a complaint with UNIFIL, saying the force was shot at without cause. The sources say the incident ended without any intent to escalate violence or dwell on the events.

Singh said the UN force arrived on the scene to prevent further violence and that the border was once again quiet. He added that he had met with both sides and reported that UNIFIL would investigate the incident.

Lebanese news agencies had claimed that the IDF force opened fire on a military base on the eastern side of the border. They said the exchanges of fire lasted a few minutes.

PM: Troops behaved properly

Later, during a meeting of the Knesset�s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commended the soldiers. �Israel is not seeking to heat up the border,� he said.

�The soldiers behaved as they were supposed to. They were supposed to defend themselves.�

He had similar comments on an incident that had occurred before dawn in the West Bank village of Kalandia, where Palestinian sources say two young men were killed by IDF fire. �It is their duty and right to defend themselves,� he said.

The incident was the first of its kind on the relatively calm front since Regiment Commander Dov Harari was killed on August 3, 2010. After the incident the Lebanese army announced it would be more careful and attempt to refrain from causing additional incidents. �

Islam ~ Israel