An Israeli tank on Wednesday night fired two rounds at the Lebanese Army - at an outpost and an armored vehicle - along the border fence, in response to gunfire targeting Israeli troops operating in the area. Earlier, Lebanese troops opened fire on a bulldozer after it crossed the so-called Blue Line - the U.N.-demarcated boundary - and entered about 20 yards into Lebanon, Lebanese officials said.
This was the most serious incident on the border since the end of the summer war between Hizbullah and Israel on August 14. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) reported that five Lebanese soldiers were injured during the exchange of fire.
Lebanese Army officials disputed UNIFIL claims that any soldiers were wounded, and said their forces suffered no casualties.
The incident followed a day of tension, as Israeli troops entered the area between the fence and the internationally-recognized border with several bulldozers, in order to search for explosive devices Hizbullah planted there, Haaretz reported. Earlier this week, four explosive devices were discovered in the area. According to Hizbullah, they were planted before the war.
The Israeli army carried out the operation, but in response, the Lebanese Army warned that if Israeli forces violated Lebanese sovereignty, it would open fire. Hizbullah claimed that Israel had violated Lebanese sovereignty. Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV gave the israeli operation a great deal of coverage, reporting that an Israeli armored column tried to cross into Lebanon close to Maroun a-Ras.
The report stated that UNIFIL and a Lebanese Army officer held discussions with Israel, after which Israel agreed to cancel the mission.
The Lebanese News Agency reported that the Lebanese Army placed forces deployed near Maroun a-Ras on alert, fearing that the Isareli army planned to broaden its operation.