President Suleiman praises Lebanese Armed Forces for resisting Israeli ‘attacks and provocations’ after Monday’s clash between Lebanese, IDF soldiers.
Lebanese President Michel Suleiman blamed Israel on Monday for “renewing its aggression” on the border with Lebanon after Israel Defense Forces troops traded fire with Lebanon’s army in the Mount Dov region on the border between the two countries.
Suleiman, who was speaking at a ceremony commemorating the 66th anniversary of the Lebanese Armed Forces, praised the army the army for standing guard against Israeli “attacks and provocations”, as well as its resistance during the 2006 Lebanon war between Israel and Hezbollah.
Lebanon’s President Michel Suleiman inspects the area where clashes between Israeli forces and the Lebanese army took place on Tuesday in southern Lebanon on August 7, 2010.
According to initial reports, Monday morning’s clash began after Lebanese soldiers shot at IDF paratroopers on the border, prompting them to return fire. In contrast with Lebanese reports, UNIFIL reported that the incident included gunfire and no injuries.
IDF sources stated that the skirmish occurred during a military drill beyond the border fence in an enclave under Israeli sovereignty.
A Lebanese military official said the shooting occurred after Israeli forces briefly entered Lebanese territory. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said the shooting took place along the Wazzani River in the southeastern corner of Lebanon across from Israeli positions.
Neeraj Singh, a spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon, said the gunfire had ceased and the area was quiet. UNFIL has launched an investigation to determine how the incident unfolded, he added.
Israeli military officials said Israel wanted “to contain the situation and maintain the calm at the border.”
Speaking at a cabinet meeting Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the event Monday, stating that “Israel is not looking to inflame the border”.
“There was an incident, the soldiers in the area acted as necessary. They are determined to protect themselves and the border”.
This is the first exchange of gunfire in the northern region since this year’s Nakba Day events which left 10 demonstrators in Lebanon dead and another 112 wounded after they attempted to breach the border and enter Israel.
The previous confrontation between the two armies occurred over a year ago when Lebanese snipers killed an IDF reservist regiment commander during an operation on the northern border. Two Lebanese soldiers and a Lebanese journalist were also killed during the skirmish.
The event threatens to break the calm on the border with Lebanon, which has been relatively quiet since the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah.