IDF Lebanon border crane.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Lebanese soldiers shot and killed an Israeli battalion commander earlier this month in an unprovoked attack along the northern border, according to a report sent Wednesday to the IDF by UNIFIL on the organization’s investigation into the attack.
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The report was submitted to the IDF and Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). UNIFIL confirmed its preliminary conclusions that the IDF soldiers had not crossed the internationally recognized border between Israel and Lebanon known as the Blue Line when pruning a tree on the other side of the fence but still within Israeli sovereign territory.
In the most severe border incident since the end of the Second Lebanon War in 2006, a LAF sniper shot and killed Lt. -Col. Dov Harari, commander of a reserves battalion that was conducting the work along the fence near Misgav Am. Three LAF soldiers and a Lebanese journalist were also killed.
The violence began when a force from Harari’s reserve battalion entered an enclave along the border 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 Blue Line.
UNIFIL said Wednesday that the findings of the investigation confirmed that the Israeli forces did not cross the border as the LAF had claimed to justify the sniper fire that killed Harari and wounded a company commander from his battalion. UNIFIL had also confirmed at the time that the IDF had informed the peacekeeping force about the borderline work before it began.
“UNIFIL’s investigative report is a result of a professional and impartial work,” said UNIFIL commander Maj.-Gen. Alberto Asarta Cuevas.
“It is based on the facts and all the evidence available to UNIFIL at this stage. We hope this report will assist the parties to prevent the recurrence of such serious and tragic events,” he said.