UNIFIL Confirms its Support of the IDF’s Account of Lebanese Border Attack

UNIFIL announced completion of investigation of LAF attack on IDF (Zahal) forces along the Lebanese border, confirming preliminary conclusions

Date: 25/08/2010, 9:28 AM     Author: Nissim Boucai

UNIFIL announced today (Wednesday, August 25) that it had completed its investigation of the August 3rd incident that occurred between the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israel Defense Forces, and verified its preliminary conclusions that Israel had operated within its own borders when Lebanese sniper fire targeted Israeli soldiers. The IDF (Zahal) had been pruning a tree that each side claimed to be within its own territory, when the Lebanese army used live fire towards the IDF (Zahal) force operating in the area, killing a senior officer, and provoking an exchange of fire. UNIFIL announced that while “both the LAF and IDF (Zahal) cooperated fully with the UNIFIL team during the investigation”, their completed report “confirms the preliminary conclusions” in which UNIFIL had determined that the tree in question was located inside Israel’s border.

The preliminary conclusions had emphasized that the “trees being cut by the Israeli army were located south of the Blue Line on the Israeli side”, as stated by UNIFIL military spokesperson Lt. Col. Naresh Bhatt following the event. Moreover, as explained to Israeli Army Radio the day following the event, Hungarian diplomat and UNIFIL spokesman Milos Strungar noted that, “the IDF (Zahal) had coordinated the pruning work along the border with the Lebanese Army through UNIFIL. The IDF (Zahal) had informed UNIFIL that it would be pruning a tree on the northern side of the border fence, but south of the international border line.”

Force Commander Major-General Alberto Asarta Cuevas said in today’s statement that, “UNIFIL’s investigation report is a result of a professional and impartial work. It is based on the facts and all the evidence available to UNIFIL at this stage. We hope this report will assist the parties to prevent the reoccurrence of such a serious and tragic incident. I emphasized to both sides that the incident of August 3rd, 2010 must remain an isolated event.”

IDF (Zahal) senior officer Lt. Col. (res.) Dov Harari was shot and killed when Lebanese forces began to open fire, and IDF (Zahal) Officer Capt. Ezra Lakia was severely injured during the incident. Two LAF soldiers and one Lebanese journalist were also killed in the ensuing exchange of fire.