The United Nations confirmed that Israeli troops were working on their side of the border when Lebanese troops fired on them, killing one Israeli officer.
Officials of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon said Wednesday that they would continue their investigation of the previous day’s incident.
President Obama on Tuesday night conveyed his condolences through Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak to the family of Lt.-Col. Dov Harari, who was killed in the Tuesday afternoon exchange of fire between Israeli and Lebanese troops. Another Israeli soldier was seriously injured. Lebanon said that four Lebanese were killed, including a journalist.
According to Israel Radio, the Israeli military told UNIFIL early Tuesday morning that it planned to trim the foliage in the area; UNIFIL asked the army to delay the activity until later in the day in order to prepare for the Israeli presence. The delay gave the Lebanese army time to arrange the ambush, an Israeli official told Army Radio, pointing out that journalists and photographers had gathered at the site before the incident occurred.
“The U.N. announcement today clearly corroborates the Israeli version of events,” Israeli spokesman Mark Regev said in a statement issued Wednesday. “Our routine activity yesterday was conducted entirely SOUTH of the frontier — on the Israeli side — and that the Lebanese Army opened fire without any provocation or justification whatsoever.”
Israeli troops returned to the site and cut the trees and bushes on Wednesday morning.
Israel filed a letter of complaint with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the U.N. Security Council following the incident Tuesday afternoon.
“These attacks threaten stability, peace, and security in our region,” Israeli Ambassador Daniel Carmon said in the letter. “In response to this grave incident that constitutes a blatant violation of UN Security Council resolution 1701, Israel exercised its right of self-defense, responding with the appropriate measures on LAF positions in the area.
“Israel holds the Government of Lebanon responsible for these attacks and all actions conducted from Lebanese territory. Israel calls upon the international community to exert its influence and to take the necessary measures with the Lebanese authorities to ensure that such provocative violations will not be repeated.”