The Lebanon army's spokesman has confirmed Israel's claims that Lebanese forces fired first during Tuesday's deadly border skirmish.
In a statement issued to AFP and quoted by Lebanese daily al-Nahar Wednesday, the spokesman said that "the Lebanese Army opened fire first at Israeli soldiers who entered Lebanese territory…this constituted defense of our sovereignty and is an absolute right."
Earlier, a senior IDF officer told Ynet in the wake of Tuesday's deadly border skirmish that left an IDF commander dead.Lebanon has much to lose should it maintain a belligerent attitude and cooperate with Hezbollah,
Ynetnews coverage of deadly border clash:
- Senior IDF commander killed in skirmish
- UNIFIL: IDF op did not warrant Lebanese fire
- Nasrallah threatens to retaliate
- US urges 'maximum restraint' by Lebanon, Israel
- Barak to Lebanon: We won't tolerate provocations
- Assad vows to help Lebanon
- Lebanese president: Stand up to Israel
- Dead, wounded in massive border skirmish
Addressing the possibility of future cooperation between the Lebanese army and Hezbollah, the military official said: "The Lebanese government would have to understand the implication of this. As a state, it has much to lose. At the end of the day, they have much to think about following Tuesday's incident, and it appears they're already doing it."
The senior officer predicted that quiet will be restored on the northern border following Tuesday's deadly clash, but stressed that the skirmish "is a painful and significant milestone in the sensitive relations on the northern border involving the IDF, UNIFIL, and the Lebanese army."
"This may have a direct effect during periods of routine, and mostly during emergency times," he said.
'Enemy follows our every move'The IDF is still analyzing Tuesday's events and officials are hinting that the writing has been on the wall for a long time now, given the warming ties between Hezbollah and Lebanon's army. IDF officials estimate that the deadly ambush faced by Israeli troops Tuesday was orchestrated by a junior, radical officer, but that his actions apparently reflected the Lebanese army's spirit.
Tuesday's incident followed a routine IDF operation in a border-area enclave aimed at cutting down shrubbery near the border fence. Despite the current tensions, the army says it will continue to carry out similar operations in the coming days.
"We do not have the privilege to stop. We're facing an enemy that follows our every move – and if we don't act, they will act against us," one IDF officer said.
However, military officials estimate that the Lebanese army, who rushed to evacuate its positions following Tuesday's incident for fear of a painful Israeli response, realizes that it would pay a heavy price should a similar incident repeat.
Roee Nahmias contributed to the story
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