United Nations peacekeepers have been reinforcing their position along the southern Lebanese border after overnight clashes. Around 300 were deployed just after midnight local time to intervene as Israeli and Lebanese forces exchanged fire. The Lebanese say an Israeli bulldozer crossed the so-called blue line buffer zone that acts as the frontier. It was then that shots were fired into the air, drawing an armed response from the Israelis.
Israeli Defence Forces claim they were looking for mines and deny they left Israeli soil. Four mines were reportedly found on Israel’s side of the blue line earlier this week. It was the first incident in the zone since the 34-day conflict last summer between Israel and the Islamic militant movement, Hezbollah.
Tel Aviv has said it hopes to maintain calm but that it will respond to any hostility. One Israeli Minister has said that he expects a repeat of last year’s conflict in southern Lebanon. The latest clash will heighten these fears, but one senior UN peacekeeper has said that any tension has now died down and given way to negotiation.