'At least four Lebanese killed in border clashes'

Exchange of fire between IDF and LAF troops prompts Israel and Lebanon to cite violations of UN resolution 1701; IDF says it gave UNIFIL notice of plans to cross fence for maintenance work.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, AP
August 3, 2010 14:58
2 minute read.
 IDF soldiers use a crane to cut a tree on the Lebanese side of the border in the southern village o

IDF Lebanon border crane. (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
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At least three Lebanese soldiers were killed in clashes with Israeli troops along the border on Tuesday afternoon, according to a Lebanese security official.  One journalist from the Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar was also reported killed the cross-border fire according to Israel Radio, bringing the number of Lebanese dead to four.

Speaking on condition of anonymity under military guidelines,
the Lebanese official said IDF shelling struck near a military vehicle in the border town of Adaisseh, setting it on fire and killing three soldiers inside the vehicle.

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Lebanese reports said the conflict began when an IDF patrol attempted to uproot a tree on the Lebanese side of the border. Other reports said the Israeli soldiers were attempting to plant cameras.

According to Israeli reports, the IDF was performing necessary maintenance work across the fence, but still within Israeli territory, since the fence does not always exactly parallel the border.

Lebanese troops reportedly opened fire, and the IDF responded with artillery fire into Southern Lebanon and dispatched helicopters which attacked LAF battalion headquarters in the village of Altaybeh, as well as a number of armored vehicles that were parked nearby.

IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.- Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi flew to the Northern border Tuesday to oversee operations.



The IDF 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 Israeli territory.

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman called on his country to "stand up to Israel's violation of UN Resolution 1701 - whatever the cost." Resolution 1701 brokered the cease-fire which ended the 2006 Lebanon War.

"The Israelis fired four rockets that fell near a Lebanese army position in the village of Adaysseh and the Lebanese army fired back," a Lebanese security official in the area told AFP news agency.

The Foreign Ministry released its own reaction Tuesday, saying that it was Lebanon who had committed harsh violations of Resolution 1701.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman instructed Israel's UN representative to submit a complaint UN secretary general and security council, saying that Israel holds the Lebanese government responsible for the very serious incident.

UNIFIL leaders called on the IDF and the LAF to exercise "maximum restraint" after the incident.

A spokesman for the international peacekeeping force at the Israel-Lebanon border said "the first priority is to calm the region." 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 known falls had occurred in the area.

The attack came a day after six rockets landed near Eilat, including one in Jordan which killed a man outside Aqaba's Intercontinental Hotel .

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