Clashes erupt along Lebanese Israeli border

August 3, 2010 12:00 am

, Lebanon, Aug 3 – Lebanese and Israeli troops exchanged fire on Tuesday along their tense border in a skirmish over a tree that left two people injured on the Lebanese side, army and security officials told AFP.

"The Israelis fired four shells (from a tank) that fell near a Lebanese army position on the outskirts of the village of Adaysseh and the Lebanese army fired back," a security official in the area told AFP, adding that two houses were damaged by the rockets.

He said one Lebanese soldier and one civilian were wounded.

An Israeli military source confirmed that clashes had erupted, saying there was an exchange of fire between Israeli troops and Lebanese forces near kibbutz Misgav Am, which lies just across the border from Adaysseh.

An Israeli army statement said IDF forces were carrying out work inside Israeli territory between the security fence and the international border when they were fired upon.

A Lebanese army spokesman said the clashes erupted after Israeli soldiers attempted to uproot a tree on the Lebanese side of the fenced border.

"The Israelis began to fire and we responded," he said.

An AFP correspondent in Adaysseh said soldiers from the Indonesian contingent serving with the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon tried to no avail to calm the situation before the clashes erupted.

Ambulances rushed to the village as residents panicked with many fleeing. Related article: Lebanon president, PM slam Israeli \’aggression\’

The Israeli army could be heard calling in Arabic for an immediate ceasefire over loudspeakers.

The Israeli army apparently tried to uproot the large tree with a tractor from their side of the border as it blocked their view.

The UN force stationed in southern Lebanon urged "maximum restraint" following the clashes along the so-called blue line, a UN-drawn border separating Lebanon from Israel.

"Our immediate priority at this time is to restore calm in the area," Neeraj Singh, spokesman for the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) told AFP.

"Acting force commander Brigadier General Santi Bonfanti is in contact with the command of both the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israeli Defence Forces urging maximum restraint."

He said UNIFIL peacekeepers were in the area where the clashes took place "trying to ascertain the circumstances of the incident and any possible casualties."

Adaysseh is located about 30 kilometres (19 miles) east of the coastal city of Tyre.

Earlier reports on Israel public radio said two rockets had been fired across the border, but Israel police denied any projectiles had landed in the north.

"Nothing was fired into the north," spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told AFP.

Abu Ali, a resident of Adaysseh, said Israeli helicopters could be seen overflying the village some one hour after the incident which erupted shortly after noon (0900 GMT).

Large swathes of southern Lebanon were destroyed in 2006 following a devastating war between the Shiite militant group Hezbollah and Israel.

Tension in the region has been mounting in recent months following reports that Hezbollah was stockpiling weapons in preparation for a new war.



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