Israel has buried its military officer who died in Tuesday’s clash with Lebanese troops – he was one of four people killed in the most serious border flare up since the 2006 war.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has firmly laid responsibility for the firefight at the feet of the Lebanese Army.
“Israel expects the international community to condemn such attacks in the strongest possible terms. All those in the international community who are genuinely committed to peace should support Israel’s right to defend itself against those who attack the innocent and seek to destroy peace,” he said.
The UN peacekeeping force in south Lebanon has agreed that Israeli troops were operating on their own side of a demarcation line when they were shot at while pruning trees, which were tripping an electric fence. However, the Lebanese Information Minister, Tarek Mitri, disputes this.
“The Lebanese side thought that it was a provocation, informed UNIFIL, who had asked the Israelis to delay the operation. But the Israelis waited for an hour or two and then went on with the operation as planned, rather than accept to delay,” said Mitri.
Funerals have also been held for the two Lebanese soldiers and a Lebanese journalist who died in the incident. While neither side appears keen to ratchet up the dispute, tension has risen since April when Israel accused Syria of handing over scud missiles to Lebanon based Hezbollah.