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Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Border clash kills Israeli colonel and four Lebanese

DAILY MAIL August 4th, 2010

By Matthew Kalman

A senior Israeli army officer and four Lebanese were killed in a firefight on the border between the countries yesterday.

In the most serious incident since the end of the 2006 war, the Lebanese say they opened fire after Israeli troops crossed the border.

The Israelis deny entering Lebanon.

There are fears that the incident could erupt into full-scale war after weeks of tension.

A UN flag flies above trees which Israeli soldiers apparently attempted to uproot on the Lebanese side of the fenced border, sparking the deadly clash

A UN flag flies above trees which Israeli soldiers apparently attempted to uproot on the Lebanese side of the fenced border, sparking a deadly clash

The Israeli victim was named last night as Lieutenant Colonel Dov Harari, 45.

Shooting erupted after Israeli forces apparently crossed a security fence near the border between the Israeli village of Misgav Am and the Lebanese village of Adaysseh.

The local commander of UN peacekeeping forces went to the area and managed to restore an uneasy calm that appeared to be holding last night.

Lebanese officials said the Israelis crossed the UN-demarcated border near Adaysseh around noon and refused to stop when warning shots were fired.

A spokesman said the clashes erupted after Israeli soldiers attempted to uproot a tree on the Lebanese side of the border.

They said an Israeli tank and helicopter opened fire at a Lebanese military position in the village, killing three soldiers and a journalist for the Hezbollah newspaper Al-Akhbar.

Four others, including a reporter for the Hezbollah TV station Al-Manar, were injured.

Israel said its troops were carrying out 'routine maintenance' on the other side of a border security fence but within Israeli territory when they came under fire from Lebanese soldiers.

But Lebanese sources said the Israelis were trying to erect a surveillance camera on the border fence.

Lebanese president Michel Suleiman called on the army to defend their country, whatever the consequences, against Israeli aggression.

Two other Israeli soldiers were wounded in the firefight.

'Israel holds the Lebanese government responsible for the grave incident, and warns of the consequences should these continue,' the Israeli Foreign Ministry said.

The army added: 'Our forces, in one of our positions, inside our own territory, were carrying out a task that was notified in advance to UNIFIL.

'The Lebanese army plainly and clearly opened fire in an unprecedented manner on Israeli soldiers and our soldiers returned fire. It's a clear provocation by sources within the Lebanese army.'

Israel has been on maximum alert as Lebanon prepares for the publication of a potentially explosive report on the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.

Leaks suggest that the prime suspects in the murder of Hariri will be named as senior operatives in Hezbollah.

Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah, who has warned that indictments against his men for the murder would be 'unacceptable', last night said his troops would not stand silent if Israel attacked Lebanon.

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