Israel Says Soldier Killed on Lebanon Border, Fires Retaliatory Shots at General Security Post

A Lebanese soldier opened fire Sunday at an Israeli vehicle in the Naqoura border area, killing an Israeli soldier, in an incident whose circumstances are still unclear.

And at around 1:00 a.m. Monday, LBCI television said the Israeli army retaliated by opening fire at the Lebanese General Security post at the Ras al-Naqoura border crossing.

The Israeli army "officially confirms that an IDF soldier was shot while driving along the Israeli-Lebanese border, near Rosh Hanikra," the Israeli army said in a statement early Monday. "The soldier was treated at the scene and was then evacuated to a hospital. He later died of his wounds," it added.

"Initial inquiry confirmed that the sniper is a member of the Lebanese Armed Forces," it said.

The incident has not been confirmed by the Lebanese army.

The Israeli military statement said that Israel had protested to the United Nations peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon.

"The IDF has protested this outrageous breach of Israel's sovereignty with UNIFIL and has heightened its state of preparedness along the border," it said.

"We will not tolerate aggression against the state of Israel and maintain the right to exercise self-defense," it added.

The Israeli military earlier said that a Lebanese soldier had opened fire on an Israeli civilian vehicle near the Mediterranean border crossing at Rosh Hanikra.

Lebanon's National News Agency said “a Lebanese army force opened fire at an Israeli unit on the border, near the Naqoura crossing.”

Lebanese TV networks, including al-Manar, and Arab televisions, including Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, said an Israeli soldier was killed in the shooting.

Al-Manar said an Israeli force tried to infiltrate Lebanese territory in Naqoura, sparking a clash with the Lebanese army.

The TV network said a single soldier opened fire and that “contact with him was lost.”

A military source told MTV that “there are no clashes between the Lebanese army and Israeli army and the situation is under control."

Quoting its correspondent in Jerusalem, MTV said "a Lebanese soldier opened fire at a civilian car that was on the Israeli side of the border, killing an Israeli navy officer who was in it."

Later on Sunday, NNA said the Lebanese and Israeli armies were both on alert on the border and that an Israeli surveillance drone was flying at low altitude over Ras al-Naqoura.

The Israeli newspaper the Jerusalem Post said that according to a preliminary Israeli army assessment, the shots were fired by "a soldier form the Lebanese Armed Forces who apparently was acting alone."

"Six to seven shots were fired at a vehicle, which was located on a road adjacent to the electronic border fence with Lebanon," the newspaper said.

"We are sending messages to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) regarding the severity of this incident. There is no indication that an infiltration into our territory occurred," it quoted an Israeli army source as saying. "The IDF is prepared in the North," he warned.

According to the newspaper, the shooting occurred at around 9:00 p.m. and "immediately afterwards, Lebanese soldiers were seen gathering on their side of the border."

"The IDF has launched an investigation into the cross-border shooting," it said.

Yedioth Ahronoth said the army was probing the border incident “which may have been criminally motivated” and that “Air Force planes are searching the area for infiltrators.”

UNIFIL spokesperson Andrea Tinenti said that his force was informed about a "serious" border incident and was trying to establish the facts.

"The situation is ongoing and the UNIFIL force commander is in contact with counterparts, urging restraint," he told Agence France Presse.

On Thursday, the Israeli army said that shots were fired across the frontier by what it called Lebanese "hunters". No casualties were reported.

In August, four Israeli soldiers on patrol were wounded in a blast 400 meters inside Lebanese territory, the Lebanese army and a U.N. peacekeeper in the border region said.

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