BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army has begun an investigation with a soldier who killed a member of the Israeli army to determine the motive behind the shooting incident that heightened tension on the Lebanese-Israeli border, a senior military official said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council condemned the killing of the Israeli soldier and called for calm and restraint by all parties.
“A military committee has begun a probe with the Lebanese soldier to determine the reasons that prompted him to open fire on the Israeli soldier,” the military official told The Daily Star.
He said the Army Command did not issue orders for the soldier to open fire on an Israeli patrol in the border area of Ras Naqoura Sunday night. “Therefore, the Lebanese soldier acted alone,” the official said.
He declined to give the name and age of the soldier, saying only that he hails from the northern district of Akkar. “The situation on the border is calm and normal,” the official added.
The situation on the Lebanese-Israeli border following the killing of the Israeli soldier was discussed during a meeting between Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi, the United Nations’ military adviser Gen. Ahmad Maksoud and Maj. Gen. Paolo Serra, commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, UNIFIL. The meeting was held at Kahwagi’s office in Yarzeh.
Discussions centered on the situation in Lebanon and the region and cooperation between the Lebanese Army and U.N. troops in the framework of implementing Security Council Resolution 1701 to maintain stability in the southern border areas, the state-run National News Agency reported.
The Security Council condemned the border shooting that led to the killing of the Israeli soldier and raised tensions between the two enemy countries.
“The members of the Security Council deplored the shooting of an Israeli soldier by a Lebanese Armed Forces soldier, on Dec. 15 in the vicinity of the Blue Line at Naqoura, and called for calm and continued restraint by all parties,” the council said in a statement.
“[Members] further underlined that it remains a serious contravention of the existing operational rules and procedures as related to Resolution 1701,” the statement said, referring to the resolution that ended the 2006 summer war between Israel and Hezbollah.
In an attempt to defuse tensions with Israel following the killing of the Israeli soldier, the Lebanese Army said the border shooting was an individual action by a soldier.
UNIFIL, following a tripartite meeting Monday in Naqoura with representatives from both sides, also said the Lebanese soldier had acted alone.
The Security Council noted that UNIFIL had confirmed the Lebanese government’s preliminary findings that the soldier acted on his own accord.
It welcomed the tripartite meeting and “the reaffirmation by the parties of their commitment to the cessation of hostilities and of their interest in preserving calm and stability along the Blue Line.”
“Council members also welcomed the reaffirmation by the Lebanese authorities of their full commitment to Resolution 1701,” the statement said.
The council also added that it looked forward to the completion of UNIFIL and Lebanon’s investigation into the incident.