Israel blames Lebanon for deadly firefight

Aug. 3, 2010 at 7:09 PM
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JERUSALEM, Aug. 3 (UPI) -- Photographs show Israeli soldiers were on their own side of the border when Lebanese troops fired at them Tuesday, Israeli officials said.

The firefight, the first serious clash on the border since Israeli troops invaded southern Lebanon in 2006, resulted in the death of one Israeli soldier and four Lebanese, the Jerusalem Post reported. Reports from Lebanon said at least three Lebanese soldiers and a Lebanese journalist were killed and a number of other soldiers and civilians were injured.

A photograph taken from the air and released late Tuesday by the Israeli military shows Israeli soldiers in their own territory.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel would respond with force to ceasefire violations. Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot. who heads Northern Command, told reporters Tuesday afternoon Lebanon engaged in a "deliberate ambush."

"I hold the Lebanese government directly responsible for this provocation," Netanyahu said.

Lebanese media reported the violence erupted after its soldiers opened fire on an Israeli army patrol allegedly uprooting a tree inside Lebanese territory. Lebanon's state run National News Agency said the exchanges began after Israeli troops tried to install surveillance cameras near the south Lebanese village of Adaysseh.

Israel responded with artillery fire. A tank shell hit a Lebanese army armored vehicle setting it afire. Several buildings in the south Lebanon village were damaged.

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman called on the country to "stand up to Israel's violation of U.N. Resolution 1701 -- whatever the cost."

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon tried to contain the situation and called on both sides to exhibit restraint. UNIFIL spokesperson Neeraj Singh confirmed there had been an exchange of fire along the Blue Line, the border demarcation between Israel and Lebanon.

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