4 killed as Israel, Lebanon clash

4 killed as Israel, Lebanon clash
# 03 August 2010 17:23 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. A deadly flare-up of tensions Tuesday along the Israel- Lebanon border raised fears of renewed violence between the nations. At least four Lebanese nationals reportedly were killed, three soldiers and one journalist, APA reports quoting Los Angeles Times.

There were also reports in Arab media that one Israeli soldier was killed and another wounded, but Israeli officials had not confirmed any casualties.

The deaths are believed to be the first since the end of the 2006 Lebanon War and come amid rising rhetoric on both sides. The countries accuse one another of violating the terms of an internationally monitored peace deal reached to end hostilities in 2006.

The skirmish began when Israeli soldiers were conducting activities along the border area. There are conflicting reports about whether Israelis were installing a surveillance camera on a fence or clearing a tree.

Lebanese officials said Israelis had crossed the border into Lebanon, but Israeli military officials denied the claim, saying they were in Israeli territory.

Lebanese soldiers said they fired warning shots at the Israelis, prompting a brief but heavy exchange of fire.

Israeli military officials said they returned fire with light arms and artillery and then dispatched helicopters several minutes later to attack a Lebanese command center, damaging several armored combat vehicles.

Officials for the U.N., which has dispatched 12,000 peacekeepers to monitor the area, has called for restraint.

"We are focused on restoring calm in the area," said U.N. representative Neeraj Singh. "Our peacekeepers in the area are trying to determine the circumstances of the incident and possible casualties."

The incident occurred near the town of Aadesseih along the border, U.N. officials said.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri demanded the U.N. investigate what the government called the "Israeli aggression against the Lebanese army" and Israel’s "scandalous violation" of Resolution 1701, the U.N. agreement reached at the end of the 2006 war.

Israel, in turn, has accused Lebanon of violating the U.N. agreement by allowing the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah to rearm itself with tens of thousands of rockets and other weapons that could be used to attack Israel. Israel has accused Syria and Iran of supplying the weapons.

"Israel holds the Lebanese government responsible for the grave incident and warns of the consequences should these continue,’’ Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement

Among the dead, according to Lebanese media, was a journalist from Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar newspaper.