Deadly Clashes Heat Up on Lebanese-Israeli Border

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METULA, Israel - Israel Defense Forces Lt. Col. Dov Hariri was killed during heavy exchanges of fire between Lebanese and Israeli troops near the northern Israeli city of Metula early Tuesday.

Two IDF soldiers were seriously injured, including platoon commander Capt. Ezra Lakia. Three Lebanese soldiers and a journalist were killed and four wounded, according to Lebanese reports.

IDF Maj. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot told reporters that Israeli troops came up against "a planned ambush" by the Lebanese army.

Both Israel and Lebanon have filed complaints with the United Nations, citing violations of U.N. Resolution 1701, the U.N.-brokered ceasefire that ended the Second Lebanon War. 

"Israel views the firing from Lebanon on an Israel Defense Force patrol, which was operating along the Lebanese border in coordination with UNIFIL, as a severe violation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1701," Israel's Foreign Ministry stated.

"This recent violation is one of many violations of Resolution 1701, the most severe of which is the massive rearmament of Hezbollah, including the rearmament of Hezbollah units in southern Lebanon," the statement said.

"Israel holds the Lebanese government responsible for the grave incident and warns of the consequences should these continue," it concluded.

According to initial reports, the incident began when Lebanese troops crossed into Israel and opened fire on IDF troops in a routine patrol near the border. The troops fired back, supported by artillery and mortars.

"The soldiers were on routine activity in Israeli territory, in an area that lies east of the "blue line" [the internationally recognized border between Israel and Lebanon] and west of the security fence, thus within Israeli territory," an IDF spokesperson said, when the patrol "was fired upon from within Lebanon."

Reports from Lebanon following the exchange of fire said an IDF shell landed near a Lebanese Army military vehicle in the village of Adaisseh near the border. The vehicle caught on fire, killing at least two soldiers inside and critically injuring a third. 

Lebanon claimed the incident began when IDF troops tried to uproot a tree blocking a lookout on the Lebanese side of the border. Lebanon says the IDF responded to warning shots with artillery fire and rocket-propelled grenades.

UN peacekeeping forces were calling for "maximum restraint" from both sides following the fighting.

A CBN News crew at the border spoke with Metula Mayor Hertzel Voker.

"We don't know the reason [for the fighting]," Voker told CBN News. 

Residents of Metula were ordered to bring their agricultural workers in from the fields. Metula's fields are literally right along the border with southern Lebanon.

Smoke could be seen on a hill in southern Lebanon during the fighting. U.N. peacekeeping forces could be seen on the roads.

The border has been relatively quiet since the end of the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006.

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