Israeli soldier, Lebanese boy killed on border as Israel warns Syria, Hizbullah
An Israeli soldier was killed in an exchange of fire on the border with Lebanon on Monday afternoon, prompting Israeli military officials to warn Lebanon and Syria to rein in anti-Israeli attack or face an escalation in the area.
Hours later, a four-year-old Lebanese boy was killed and his brother wounded in an explosion in a village near the border with Israel.
Israel's army said at least three mortar shells were shot early Tuesday from Lebanon toward northeastern Israel. Israel Radio reported the Lebanese boy was killed when one of the shells landed short, The AP reported.
Lebanese officials said they didn't know if Tuesday's explosion in the village of Houla was caused by a rocket or an anti-aircraft shell fired toward Israel that fell short.
The shootings on the border began when a sniper fired toward Israeli soldiers on a routine patrol near the border with Lebanon, the Israeli army said. No organization claimed responsibility for the killing of the Israeli soldier, but Israeli sources said it may have been carried out by Hizbullah.
On its part, Hizbullah said in a one-sentence statement faxed to The Associated Press in Beirut that it was not involved.
Lebanese security officials said two cars and a house in the Lebanese village of Kfar Kila were hit by the Israeli fire but that no one was injured.
An officer from the U.N. Interim Force In Lebanon said a U.N. water tanker truck was hit by three bullets.
The head of Israel's northern command, Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz, warned Lebanon and Syria that a refusal to stop the attacks would bring about Israeli retaliation.
"These actions are very dangerous for Lebanon and Syria ... and can bring about a serious deterioration in the situation," Gantz said at a news conference after the border shootings. "Syria is responsible for what happened here, by letting the terror groups act freely."
A senior Israeli military official said on condition of anonymity that Israel was considering further retaliation against Syria, Lebanon and Hizbullah.
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)