independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Israeli troops have shot two Lebanese soldiers

An Israeli soldier has been shot near the border with Lebanon, the Israeli military says

Israeli troops have shot two Lebanese soldiers, hours after a Lebanese army sniper killed an Israeli soldier.

The shooting took place just after midnight last night after Israeli forces identified "suspicious movement" along the border and shot two members of Lebanon's armed forces.

The shooting occurred near where a Lebanese army sniper killed an Israeli soldier late yesterday. There was no information on the condition of the Lebanese soldiers.

The shootings raise the possibility of renewed fighting in the volatile area, which has remained mostly quiet since a month-long summer war in 2006.

The Lebanese army has opened fire in the past after saying Israeli soldiers had tried to infiltrate.

Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, an Israeli army spokesman, said: "We will not tolerate aggression against the state of Israel, and maintain the right to exercise self-defence against perpetrators of attacks against Israel and its civilians."

Since the 2006 war, the border has experienced only sporadic violence. Israel has responded with airstrikes and artillery fire following a number of rocket attacks and shootings across the border.

In the most serious incident, a high-ranking Israeli officer was killed by a Lebanese sniper in 2010 after Israeli forces tried to cut down a tree along the border. Israel responded with artillery fire, killing two Lebanese soldiers and a journalist.

Andrea Tenenti, a spokesman for UN forces in southern Lebanon, said the UN was informed of a "serious incident" along the border. He said the peacekeeping force Unifil was in contact with both the Lebanese and Israeli armies, and they were co-operating.

"The incident happened on the Israeli side of the blue line," he said, referring to a UN-drawn line demarcating the border between the two enemy states. He gave no further details, saying Unifil was still investigating.

The 2006 war broke out after Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerrillas crossed into Israel and captured two Israeli soldiers. The ensuing month-long conflict killed about 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis.

Hezbollah, which has an arsenal of tens of thousands of missiles and rockets aimed at Israel, is preoccupied with the war in neighbouring Syria, where it is aiding the forces of President Bashar Assad. Israeli officials believe Hezbollah is not interested in opening a new front with Israel now.

AP

Press Association

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