Facing the first deadly cross-border skirmish in the North since coming into office in March 2009, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned Tuesday that he held the Lebanese government directly responsible for the “violent provocation” that killed one officer and left another seriously wounded.
Following consultations throughout the day with senior security, intelligence and diplomatic officials, Netanyahu issued a statement saying Israel viewed the incident “very gravely,” and saw it as a blatant violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which put an end to the Second Lebanon War in 2006.RELATED:US urges maximum restraintIDF commander killed on Lebanon borderPhoto gallery: Unrest on the northern
“I see the Lebanese government as directly responsible for this violent provocation against Israel,” he said. “Israel responded, and will respond aggressively in the future, to all efforts to disturb the quiet on the northern border and harm the citizens of the North and the soldiers protecting them.”
Netanyahu will convene the security cabinet on Wednesday to discuss both the Lebanon incident and Monday’s rocket attack from Sinai on Eilat.
Amid concern in recent weeks regarding tension in Lebanon over reports of an imminent indictment of Hizbullah by an international panel examining the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, Israel has sent messages through third parties to both Syria and Lebanon not to allow any party to try and divert attention by provoking Israel.
Diplomatic officials said it was too early to determine whether Tuesday’s incident, which government officials said was a “deliberate ambush,” was designed to divert attention from the Hariri probe, or was merely a “localized incident.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman directed Israel’s envoy at the UN, Gabriela Shalev, to file a protest with the UN secretary-general and the Security Council.
In addition, Israel was talking to the countries that have representatives in the UNIFIL force in southern Lebanon, saying that it was a deliberate ambush on Israeli forces inside Israel’s sovereign territory.
Israel, according to diplomatic officials, was also telling these countries that weaponry the international community provided the Lebanese army in the hope it would be used against terrorists, was instead being used against Israel.
The IDF’s activities Tuesday in the area of the attack near Kibbutz
Misgav Am – an area that Jerusalem stressed was between Israel’s border
fence and the international border – had been coordinated with UNIFIL in
advance. Israeli officials said there were three areas on the border
where for topographical reasons, the fence could not be built on the
border, only west or south of it – but all in Israeli territory.
Minister Ehud Barak, meanwhile, warned Lebanon against continued
provocations, and called on the Lebanese government to probe who was
responsible for Tuesday’s attack. He also called upon UNIFIL to act with
determination to prevent similar incidents, and called for the
international community to condemn the attack.