BEIRUT: A Lebanese soldier opened fire on an Israeli patrol on the Lebanese-Israeli border Sunday night, killing an Israeli soldier, a security source in Lebanon said, in an incident that heightened tension on the frontier.
The security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Daily Star that the Israeli soldier was killed after an Israeli army unit attempted to cross the border in Ras Naqoura.
A spokesman for the Israeli army confirmed that a soldier was killed in gunfire near the border with Lebanon.
Media reports said a Lebanese General Security post in Naqoura came under Israeli fire after the incident.
A Lebanese military official told The Daily Star that “a Lebanese soldier fired at an Israeli patrol in the Ras al- Naqoura area on the border.”
He could not confirm media reports that the soldier had acted alone, saying the circumstances of the incident were still being investigated.
The official denied reports that Lebanese troops fought against Israeli soldiers. “There were no clashes between the two sides,” he said.
He also denied that any Lebanese soldier was missing or was captured by Israeli forces.
The incident came less than two weeks after a top Hezbollah military commander, Hassan Hawlo al-Lakkis, was assassinated in Beirut’s southern suburbs. Hezbollah has blamed Israel for Lakkis’ killing and vowed to make the Jewish state bear the consequences.
In Jerusalem, a spokesman for the Israeli military said a Lebanese Army sniper fired shots at “a civilian vehicle” traveling along the Lebanon-Israel border. He said a soldier was killed in the incident.
“The IDF has protested this outrageous breach of Israel’s sovereignty with UNIFIL and has heightened its state of preparedness along the border,” Israeli army spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said. “We will not tolerate aggression against the state of Israel, and maintain the right to exercise self defense against perpetrators of attacks against Israel and its civilians.”
Andrea Tenenti, a UNIFIL spokesman in southern Lebanon, said the U.N. force was informed of a “serious incident along the Blue Line around Ras Naqoura.” He said UNIFIL was in contact with both the Lebanese and Israeli armies, urging self-restraint, and saying that both sides were cooperating.
“The incident happened on the Israeli side of the Blue Line,” he said.
It was not clear why the Lebanese soldier opened fire. The Lebanese Army has opened fire in the past after Israeli forces tried to infiltrate the border area.
The state-run National News Agency, quoting its correspondent in the southern city of Tyre, said both the Lebanese and Israeli armies were put on high alert, while an Israeli reconnaissance plane flew at a low altitude over the Ras Naqoura area.