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Tue, august 03, 2010 | Debkafile

Israeli soldiers take up position near the border with Lebanon after an exchange of fire. (Photograph: Reuters)

Serious border clash leaves Israeli, Lebanese army casualties

The border tensions brewing between Lebanon and Israel in recent weeks boiled over Tuesday, Aug. 3 into a heavy exchange of fire between troops on both sides of the border. IDF  casualties [and a journalist from al-Akhbar newspaper killed, BBC news] are reported by foreign sources. The Lebanese report three soldiers and several civilians killed, as well as a number injured.

The exchange developed after the Lebanese army opened fire on Israeli troops [near the Israeli town of Kiryat Shemona and the Lebanese village of Adaysseh], using mortars and RPGs. Israeli tank artillery retaliated, followed by IDF helicopters which attacked Lebanese firing positions.

An Israeli complaint to the United Nations holds the Lebanese government responsible for attacking Israeli troops whose work on the Israeli side of the border was coordinated with UN peacekeepers.

Debkafile’s military sources report indications in Beirut and Jerusalem that, despite UNIFIL’s call on both sides to exercise “maximum restraint,” the incident which flared at 12:30 p.m. may not be over.

On the Israeli side, helicopters, tanks and artillery are in action and all Lebanese units in the south have gone on full alert since President Michel Suleiman, at two p.m. called on the Lebanese people to be prepared to lay down their lives to defend their country and UN Security Council Resolution 1701 which terminated the 2006 war with Israel.

In Jerusalem, Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu urgently consulted with security chiefs on Israel’s response to what it sees as Lebanese aggression. The possibility that the Lebanese soldiers who began the shooting were Hizballah gunmen disguised in military uniform is under investigation.

Israeli soldiers use a crane installing a surveillance camera on the border fence near Kibbutz Misgav-Am opposite the Lebanese village of Adeisseh village. (Lutfallah Daher/Associated Press)

The incident flared when they ordered Israeli troops to stop installing a surveillance camera on the border fence near Kibbutz Misgav-Am opposite the Lebanese village of Adeisseh village. They accused the Israeli soldiers of encroaching on Lebanese territory. When the Israelis replied they had kept to their own side of the border and refused to back down, the Lebanese started shooting.

According to debkafile’s military sources, the clash was staged deliberately by the Lebanese side to divert attention from the radical change in the balance of power in Beirut as a result of President Bashar Assad’s abrupt switch of patronage from Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah to Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri.

To read debkafile’s earlier article on the events leading up to this outbreak, click here.

It coincided with a ‘major speech’ expected later Tuesday by Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Iranian-backed Hizballah, and came a day after six missiles were fired towards the Jordanian port of Aqaba and Israeli Red Sea resort of Eilat, killing one Jordanian.


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