Lebanon, Israel Soldiers in Border Clash

Tensions at the Lebanon-Israel border flared up on Tuesday when soldiers from both sides engaged in a gunfight that could negatively affect a U.N.-brokered peace deal that ended a 2006 war involving the two countries.

Reports said at least 4 people were killed in the most violent clash since the war between Israel and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah ended four years ago. Two Lebanese soldiers and an Israel officer were among those who were killed in the incident, which both sides have denied starting.

The clash allegedly started when an Israeli soldier tried to cut a tree that was located inside the Lebanese part of the border. A journalist who was at the scene, Ronith Daher, supported the claims made by Lebanon, saying that Lebanese soldiers fired warning shots when an Israeli soldier tried to cross a fence separating the two countries, but Israeli troops responded by firing directly across the border.

However, Israel claimed that the contested tree was inside its territory and that the Lebanese soldiers fired without provocation. Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, Israel’s northern commander, said Israeli soldiers were clearing bushes when they were fired at by Lebanese snipers.

The U.N., which has a 12,000-strong peacekeeping contingent in the area, called on both sides to act with restraint so as to prevent the incident from becoming a full-blown conflict.