IDF, Lebanese army exchange fire on northern border
Israeli troops operating since early evening along border fence to uncover more explosive devices, Lebanese army fires in air, warned that further shooting would result in IDF response. Shooting continues, IDF tank fires two shells in direction of shots. No injuries have been reported
The IDF and Lebanese forces exchanged fire on Israel's northern border near Avivim late Wednesday night. Israeli troops have been operating in the area between the Israeli fence and the Lebanese border for several hours, combing for additional Hizbullah explosive devices similar to the ones found earlier this week in the area.
The incident began after Lebanese forces fired shots into the air and was warned by the IDF than any further gunfire would result in a response by its troops. When the shooting continued, an IDF tank fired two shells in the direction of the gunfire.
Both sides reported that no one was wounded.
Hizbullah explosives devices near Avivim on Monday (Photo: IDF Spokesperson)
Earlier Wednesday evening IDF forces began clearing brush from the area between the security fence and the Blue Line (the Lebanese border) as part of the operation to uncover additional explosive devices planted by Hizbullah to use against army border patrols. Large armored bulldozers ploughed tracks of land near Avivim where explosives devices were located and defused on Monday.
Although army units passed through the gates of a fence along the border, they did not cross the international border, the army said, adding that the Lebanese Army threatened to open fire at Israeli forces should they continue operating near the border. It should be noted that Israeli troops have operated in the area between the fence and the border – only several dozen meters wide - since the end of the war.
IDF sources responded to the Lebanese that such operations were necessary and that fire towards Israeli soldiers would be met with a harsh response.
Engineering Corps and infantry troops took part in the operation.
Northern Command officers called the operation a "defensive measure," aimed at deterring threats against army patrols along the border. The operation is compliant with the policies established after the end of the war meant to keep Hizbullah off the border and prevent it from attacking troops.
Explosives detonated by sappers near Avivim on Monday (Photo: IDF Spokesperson)
Lebanese media: Israel trying to cross border
Hizbullah's mouthpiece, al-Manar TV, falsely reported that Israeli troops entered 20 yards into Lebanese territories and were met by fire from the Lebanese Army and United Nations peacekeeping forces.
Al-Manar said Israel was preparing for a confrontation with Hizbullah and falsely reported that armored vehicles attempted to infiltrate Lebanon near the Maroun al-Ras area, where Israelis soldiers and Hizbullah gunmen fought fierce battles during last summer's war.
The official Lebanese news agency reported that Lebanese troops were preparing for another Israeli attempt to invade Lebanon.
On Monday military forces uncovered four explosive devices in the Avivim area, located about 60 meters (196 feet) north of the fence and disguised as rocks. Military sources in the north estimated that the devices were planted recently in order to target IDF troops.
IDF officials said that the initiated activity in the area was successful in thwarting terror attacks. However, they criticized the Lebanese government for not operating in the area in order to foil Hizbullah's activity. The explosives were detonated in a controlled manner by IDF sappers.