Det som utspant seg på grensen til Libanon tirsdag morgen, var en ytterst alvorlig hendelse. Libanesiske styrker ønsket og startet en provokasjon.
UNIFIL bekrefter at israelerne var på sin side av den blå linjen. Den libanesiske hæren var informert. Likevel skyter snikskyttere de to israelske kommandantene som overvåket ryddingen av trær, og skuddene kom fra en landsby i nærheten. Det tyder på en planlagt aksjon.
IDF slo tilbake, men noen timer senere fyrer den libanesiske hæren av fire raketter mot en israelsk stridsvogn. Det tyder på at noen ønsket opptrapping. Det var da israelske fly fyrte av raketter mot en forlegning lenger inn i landet: tre libanesiske soldater og en journalist ble drept.
The incident began at about 8 A.M. Tuesday, when IDF Northern Command informed UNIFIL, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, that it planned to clear vegetation along the border fence that was disrupting its soldiers’ line of sight – an operation the IDF termed «routine maintenance,» of the type it performs regularly.
UNIFIL asked the IDF to delay the operation on the grounds that the force’s commander was then in New York. But the IDF did not see this as valid grounds for delay, so at 10:30 A.M. the work began.
UNIFIL, as is the norm, had informed the Lebanese Army of the planned operation, and a Lebanese force was sent to observe from its side of the border. Some of the Lebanese troops began cursing the IDF soldiers and shouting at them to leave, but the Israelis did not respond.
A few minutes later, at about 12:10 P.M., the IDF battalion and company commanders – who were supervising the truck’s work from a lookout post about 100 meters away – suddenly came under sniper fire from a house east of the Lebanese village of Adeisa. Harari, the battalion commander, was hit in the head and Capt. Ezra Lakiya, the company commander, in the chest. Lakiya is now being treated at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.
The IDF said such an ambush would probably have been prepared two or three hours in advance.
In response, the IDF soldiers and an IDF tank opened fire, and the Lebanese soldiers fled. An IDF artillery battery then targeted three nearby Lebanese Army outposts.
At that point, UNIFIL asked the IDF to cease its fire so the wounded could be evacuated, and at 1:20 P.M., the IDF complied.
At about 2 P.M., however, Lebanese soldiers fired four rocket-propelled grenades at an IDF tank. They missed their target, but the IDF responded: A helicopter fired several missiles at a Lebanese Army battalion headquarters deeper inside Lebanon.
Four Lebanese were killed in that attack – three soldiers and a journalist – and about 10 people were wounded. The air strike also destroyed several Lebanese Army vehicles and set some houses on fire.
A senior IDF officer said last night that intelligence information indicates the ambush was planned and carried out on the orders of a Lebanese company commander. The Lebanese Army’s high command, he said,apparently did order the troops to create an incident to impress the various media outlets present, but told them only to fire in the air. The local commander then decided on his own initiative to escalate the incident by targeting the Israeli soldiers directly.
Milos Strugar, UNIFIL’s senior political adviser said that the IDF had «informed UNIFIL that it was going to conduct maintenance works» on the border, adding that while the Israeli unit had been «on the northern side of the border fence,» it was nonetheless «south of the international borderline.»
Asserting the IDF’s claim that it had informed the Lebanese side of the planned border works, Strugar said that UNIFIL had received a message from the IDF «regarding these works, and we had passed that on to the Lebanese army.»
«We deal with complaints on provocations of Lebanese soldiers against IDF units on a daily basis,» Strugar told Army Radio, adding incidents occur «almost every day, there’s a lot of tension round the border, but what happened is the worst incident since 2006.»