Israel, Lebanon try to avoid heightening tensions
In the wake of Tuesday's border skirmish between Israel and Lebanon, both countries agreed to respect the UN's resolutions for peace.
Senior representatives of the Israeli Defense Forces and the Lebanese army met at the Nakoura crossing on Wednesday evening to discuss the exchange of fire that occurred earlier in the week along the Blue Line. "Both parties renewed their commitment to the cessation of hostilities...and undertook to work with UNIFIL to ensure that incidents of violence are avoided in the future," said Major General Alberto Asarta Cuevas.
He also advised both sides to seek restraint and to prevent any actions that could heighten tensions.
On his part, UNIFIL political advisor Milos Struger said, "Our immediate priority of UNIFIL is to restore calm in the area. UNIFIL has been in contact with the top leadership with the Lebanese Army and with the command of the Israeli army urging maximum restraint."
The clash occurred when Israeli forces leaned over a border fence to trim a tree that was interfering with their security system. UNIFIL later established that the tree was within Israeli territory. Defense experts claim that the incident escalated when a Lebanese army officer acted spontaneously, and not on orders from higher authorities.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed, however, to respond to the increased violence by Hamas and the government of Lebanon.
"I want to make it clear to Hamas and to the government of Lebanon that we consider them responsible for the violent provocations against our soldiers. Do not test our determination to defend the citizens and soldiers of Israel," he said Wednesday night. "Our policy is clear: Israel responds and it will continue to respond aggressively to every attack on its citizens and soldiers."
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