Israel vowed to respond harshly to further Lebanese aggression after a
reserve battalion commander was killed on Tuesday and another soldier
was seriously wounded in the worst violence along the northern border
since the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
Lt.-Col. (res.) Dov Harari, 45, from Netanya, was shot dead by a sniper
from the Lebanese Armed Forces, and a company commander from his
battalion, Capt. Ezra Lakia, sustained a gunshot wound to the chest. By
Tuesday evening, Lakia was in stable condition at Rambam Medical Center
Sharp words from Lebanese leaders, Syria
Photo gallery: Unrest on the northern
Shmona mayor: Residents don't need to enter shelters'
The violence began around noon, when a force from Harari’s reserve
battalion entered an enclave along the border and near Kibbutz Misgav Am
to conduct routine maintenance work. Enclaves refer to land that is
sovereign Israeli territory but is on the other side of the border
fence, which does not always run directly parallel to the
internationally recognized border, known as the Blue Line.
The soldiers had coordinated their movement beyond the fence with UNIFIL
and were working to cut down a tree when shots were fired in their
direction. Lakia was shot in the chest by a Lebanese Army sniper, and
Harari was shot in the head.
The IDF responded with heavy tank fire at an Lebanese position just over
the border, killing three soldiers and a Lebanese journalist. Lebanese
soldiers then fired rocket-propelled grenades at an Israeli tank south
of the border.
IDF artillery began pounding the area, and a number of IAF attack
helicopters were dispatched to bomb a Lebanese Armed Forces command
center in the southern Lebanese town of Taiba. The center was heavily
damaged, as were a number of LAF armored personnel carriers parked
The IDF has noticed an increase lately in anti-Israel rhetoric among
senior LAF commanders. The LAF company commander responsible for the
area where the attack took place recently took up his post and, the IDF
believes, might have interpreted the recent rise in rhetoric to mean
that he could take matters into his own hands.
Israel is concerned with the radicalization that the LAF has undergone
over the past year, including the assistance it provides Hizbullah in
hiding its arms caches and operations throughout southern Lebanon.
“Israel will not stand by as its soldiers and citizens are attacked,”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Tuesday, adding that the IDF would
continue to operate in all of its sovereign territory, including within
the enclaves between the fence and the Blue Line border.
OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot said the Lebanese soldiers
had planned to attack the troops and used the crossing of the fence as
“This was a deliberate ambush,” Eizenkot said. “This was a provocation
by the LAF, and we view the shooting severely.”
Eizenkot said that following Israel’s harsh response, the LAF
transmitted a request via UNIFIL to the IDF, asking for a cease-fire.
“I believe that this is an isolated incident, but it is the gravest
incident since the Second Lebanon War, and that is why we responded the
way we did,” he said.
IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi flew to the northern
border on Tuesday to oversee operations. The army stressed that it had
coordinated its crossing of the fence with UNIFIL, informing them of a
need to carry out maintenance work across the fence but still within
Lebanese President Michel Suleiman called on his country to “stand up to
Israel’s violation of UN Resolution 1701 – whatever the cost.”
Security Council Resolution 1701 brokered the cease-fire that ended the
Second Lebanon War.
UNIFIL leaders called on the IDF and the LAF to exercise “maximum
“The first priority is to calm the region,” a spokesman for the
international peacekeeping force said.
Military sources said that on Wednesday the IDF would return to the
enclave near Misgav Am. “We will continue to work as usual and will cut
down the tree,” one officer said.
Also on Wednesday, the IDF will participate in a trilateral meeting with
UNIFIL and LAF representatives at Nakoura, Lebanon, to discuss
Tuesday’s violence and attempt to create guidelines that will prevent
There were reports of a Katyusha rocket fired into Israel during the
clashes, but the claims were not substantiated by the IDF, which said no
rocket strikes had been identified.
The attack came a day after six rockets hit near Eilat, including one in
Jordan that killed a man outside Aqaba’s Intercontinental Hotel.
Kiryat Shmona Mayor Nissim Malcha told Channel 10 on Tuesday afternoon
that there was no need for northern residents to enter bomb shelters.
“I hope that this is an isolated incident,” he said.
Upper Galilee Regional Council head Aharon Valenzia called on the large
number of people enjoying vacations and day trips in the North to
continue what they were doing without fear.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to