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Lebanon shooting at Israel border 'individual act'
Published Monday 16/12/2013 (updated) 30/12/2013 10:31
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UNIFIL troops stand guard at the Ras al-Naqura checkpoint on the
Lebanese-Israeli border on Dec. 16, 2013 following crossfire between
Israeli and Lebanese forces (AFP/Mahmoud Zayyat)
TYRE, Lebanon (AFP) -- The UN peacekeeping force in south Lebanon said Monday that a border shooting that killed an Israeli soldier appeared to be "an individual action," as officers of the two armies met.

The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) statement came after a meeting it convened at its post near the Ras al-Naqoura border crossing, bringing together senior Lebanese and Israeli army officers.

Israel accused a Lebanese army soldier of opening fire across the sensitive border separating the two countries and killing one of its troops on Sunday.

"All the circumstances of this incident are not clear at this time, but preliminary findings indicate that it was an individual action by a soldier in contravention of the existing operational rules and procedures," said the UNIFIL commander, Major General Paolo Serra.

He said he was "encouraged by the full cooperation ... received from them (the two sides) in restoring calm in the area."

"I stressed at the meeting that this must remain an isolated incident."

The shooting was the first time an Israeli soldier had been killed along the border with Lebanon in more than three years, sparking calls for calm from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

But commentators said it was unlikely to spark a confrontation.

The Israeli army said the soldier was shot by Lebanese troops as he was driving a civilian vehicle along a section of the border near Rosh HaNikra on the Mediterranean coast.

The crossing is known in Lebanon as Ras al-Naqoura.

In a statement, the UN chief said UNIFIL was investigating the incident in cooperation with the two armies, and urged the sides to remain calm.

"The secretary General reminds the Lebanese Armed Forces of their responsibilities under Security Council Resolution 1701 and strongly urges both sides to exercise restraint," he said of the resolution which ended hostilities in 2006.

Israel filed a protest with UNIFIL over the incident which it described as an "outrageous breach" of its sovereignty.

And the Israeli military said it had "heightened its state of preparedness" and would maintain its "right to exercise self-defense."

Israel's army said troops searching the area on Sunday, shortly after the shooting, had fired towards two suspects who were standing on the other side of the border, hitting one of them.

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said the shooter was understood to be "a Lebanese soldier."

"We hold the Lebanese government and Lebanese army responsible for what happens on their side," he said.

The Israeli soldier, 31-year-old Master Sergeant Shlomi Cohen, was to be laid to rest at a cemetery in the northern Israeli port city of Haifa on Monday evening.

Neither side seeking confrontation

There was no immediate reaction from the Lebanese army but it issued a statement on Monday saying an Israeli drone had violated Lebanese airspace in the same area shortly after the incident.

Meanwhile, Lebanese troops were stationed at their position close to where the shooting occurred.

Israeli commentator Amos Harel wrote in Haaretz newspaper that the shooting was unlikely to spark violence across the border.

"Neither Israel nor Hezbollah are seeking a comprehensive military confrontation, and the Lebanese government surely does not want to be drawn into such a conflict," he said.

Israel's border with Lebanon has been largely quiet since the 2006 war with Hezbollah.

The last time an Israeli soldier was killed there was in August 2010, when two Lebanese soldiers and a journalist also died.

In August, four Israeli soldiers were wounded by an explosion some 400 meters (yards) inside Lebanese territory, in a blast claimed by Hezbollah.

Last week, Hezbollah said one of its top leaders was killed near Beirut and blamed Israel for his murder -- a charge denied by Israel, which warned against any retaliation.

UNIFIL troops were deployed along the border following the 34-day war in 2006 which killed some 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.
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1 ) jesse / usa
16/12/2013 22:01
Every person shooting a gun is an individual action

2 ) Colin Wright / USA
16/12/2013 22:49
I assume the retaliation, however, was not 'an individual act.'

3 ) southparkbear / usa
17/12/2013 14:09
a single drone attack is also an individual act

4 ) Carlos / usa
17/12/2013 23:20
I want peace between Lebanon and israel. But I want israel to stay out of Lebanon too. israel can't seem to keep its soldiers, jets, assassins or its agents out of Lebanon. Occasionally israel gets caught with thier pants down like when israel sent an assassin squad 400 meters into Lebanon and they were blown up. I will not condemn the Lebanese soldier for taking pot shot at one of Lebanons tormentors. Take note israel he hit his target!

5 ) carlos / usa
18/12/2013 22:23
Colin Wright has a good point. Why does israeli government not get condemned for murdering Palestinians in Gaza. Especially since most of the murders of innocent people are sanctioned by the government of israel. Every day one of the israeli watch towers shoots a farmer or the israeli navy drowns a fisherman. Yet we have to hear israel complain about Lebanon! Dont forget israel just assassinated a Hezbollah leader. Retaliation sucks for israeli soldier shot for israeli leader ordered murder.

6 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
18/12/2013 22:41
No Colin, the retaliation was a measured response to an unrprovoked and illegal act of war by Lebanon against Israel. A uniformed soldier of the Lebanese national army representing a sovereign country carried out an act of war. Doesn't matter if he was individual or not, as he wears the uniform and he is the Lebanese army. Carlos is even worse. He appears to condone this illegal action because it supports his pet hatred of Israel. You are both wrong. International law says so.

7 ) Colin Wright / USA
19/12/2013 09:36
Let me be clearer, the retaliation was a Knesset motivated attack against a poor group of Hezbollah soldiers whose only crime was to have one amongst them shoot an Israeli soldier dead. Under international law, Israel had no right whatsoever to attack in return. Furthermore, under international law, Israel has no right to defend itself whatsoever.

8 ) Carlos / usa
20/12/2013 19:58
israel murders people in Gaza for no reason other than to make life miserable for the survivors. I cant wait until israels leaders are brought to trial. I dont want them to be simply executed I want them to first deny they committed a crime. I want them to understand we dont care if they thought God gave them permission to murder. After several years of trials and appeals an execution would be appropriate.

9 ) ian / australia
23/12/2013 05:55
It's pretty simple. The Lebanese soldier who killed Master Sergeant Shlomi Cohen was NOT acting under orders (in fact, disobeying them, making "act of war" a stretch) whereas IDF soldiers who "fired towards two suspects who were standing on the other side of the border, hitting one of them" were. How "standing on the other side of the border" makes them "suspects" and how "hitting one of them", "a Lebanese soldier", at random, can reasonably be called "self-defense" is anyone's guess.

10 ) ian / australia
23/12/2013 05:58
(contd.) It looks more like simple revenge. A law-of-the-jungle style show of strength. As for international law: BOTH sides, Israel and Lebanon, clearly have the right as sovereign states to defend themselves against REAL threats or attacks (which excludes this kind of "individual act") but proportionality is the salient concept...which, on past record, there mightn't be a Hebrew word for.
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