Lebanon - Israel

Three soldiers, journalist die in Israel-Lebanon border clashes

Reuters

Three Lebanese soldiers and a journalist have been killed, and an Israeli soldier wounded, in cross-border clashes between Lebanese and Israeli troops. Lebanon was quick to condemn what it calls Israel's "violation of Lebanese sovereignty”.

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Israel has warned Lebanon that it will face "consequences" if there are further clashes on the border, a statement Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's office said Tuesday afternoon.

The soldiers and journalist died near the Lebanese village of Adaysseh across the border from Misgav Am, along the northernmost stretch of the Israel-Lebanon border, after clashes erupted at noon (09:00 universal time), Lebanese security officials said.

An unspecified number of Israeli troops were also hurt in the fighting, they added.

The Lebanese army says the fighting broke out after Israeli troops tried to uproot a
tree blocking their view in a disputed border area.

But Israel said its forces were carrying out work inside Israeli territory between a security fence and a UN-drawn border when they were fired upon.

Lebanese President Michel Sleiman's office released a statement saying he “denounces the new Israeli violation of Resolution 1701, which includes the bombing of a Lebanese army checkpoint and attacks on Lebanese property".

This is a revival of violence after a period of calm, says Peter Harling of the International Crisis Group.

"We've had a string of incidents on the border, but very few since the 2006 war, in contrast with the previous decade," he told RFI. "The border has been remarkably calm and the main reason is that we're more or les in a balance of mutual deterrent, a balance of terror, with Israel on one side, Hezbollah on the other, and Iran building up for a possible war".

UN Security Council Resolution 1701 ended the devastating 2006 war between Lebanese Shia-Muslim Hezbollah and Israel. It also beefed up the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), charged with overseeing a ceasefire.

Meanwhile Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri demanded the United Nations and the international community pressure Israel to "stop its aggression".

Unifil spokesperson Neeraj Singh said the international force was working to restore calm in the area, urging maximum restraint on both sides.

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