The 21st Century Phenomenon





Three Lebanese soldiers and an Israeli officer have been killed, on Tuesday 08/03/2010, in the first serious border clash since Israel’s 2006 conflict with Lebanon’s Hizbullah. A Lebanese journalist was killed in the fighting too. 

The Israeli border with Lebanon is protected, among other means, with a sophisticated electronic fence and a parallel patrol road. Due to geographic reasons the fence meets together with the official Israeli-Lebanese border, known as the ‘Blue Line’, only in some places. Generally the fence winds from few meters up to a kilometre inside Israel’s territory.

In places where there is a substantial gap between the fence and the international border with Lebanon Israel is operating routinely in materialising Israel sovereignty, clearing the view for surveillance cameras and preventing the Hizbullah from using the area to launch attacks on the fence as they did, on 07/12/2006, when they attacked an Israeli patrol on the fence, killed 12 soldiers and kidnapped two, an event that led to the summer 2006 war in Lebanon.

When Israel is operating outside the fence Israel notices UNIFI”L in Lebanon. They check with Israel that the line of the international border, the Blue Line, with Lebanon is clear to all sides, the Lebanese army is informed, a UNIFI”L liaison officer is stationed on the Israeli side to convey any complains or misunderstanding and a UNIFI”L team from the Lebanese side is following the Israeli activity to make sure Israel is not crossing the line. That protocol was carried out many hundreds of times always unnoticed in the media. 

On Tuesday 08/03/2010, prior to the exchange of fire, reporters and TV crews gathered in the area, which is extremely unusual and means they were tipped off. Indeed they filmed the very instant when the Lebanese army opened fire without warning to Israeli troops operating in Israeli territory outside the fence near Kibutz Msigav-Am. Almost simultaneously a sniper team opened fire on the Israeli command post killing the battalion commander Lt’ Col. Dov Harari and wounding another officer. In the Israeli response an al-Akhbar newspaper reporter Assaf Abu Rahhal was killed alongside 3 Lebanese soldiers and a Hizbullah Al-Manar TV channel reporter was wounded.

UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon – UNIFI”L said later on Tuesday there was no evidence that Israeli soldiers had crossed the border. 

The incident came a day after rockets were fired at the Israeli resort of Eilat. A stray Iranian made rocket killed one person in the nearby port of Aqaba in Jordan (see – Aqaba 08.02.10) and five days after another Iranian made rocket hit the centre of the Israeli town of Ashkelon, North of Gaza Strip, on 07/30/2010 (see – Ashkelon 07.30.10).

Israel acknowledged that pro-Iranian Hizbullah was not involved directly in the incident. The local Lebanese unit, the Lebanese 9th’ army brigade is manned by Shiaa soldiers, as most of the Lebanese Army. Most of the commanding officers are from other non-Shiaa communities in Lebanon. The unit was deployed to South Lebanon recently and is new in the region. 

According to Israeli intelligence the Lebanese army in the scene did not act on orders from the Lebanese headquarters in Beirut or the brigade Commander. Israel suspects the local Lebanese battalion commander, who was informed in advance about the Israeli activity, orchestrated the incident.

The incident, although not yet fully investigated, raises concern about the discipline and loyalty of the Lebanese army and concern about the possibility that pro-Hizbullah elements infiltrated into the Lebanese army chain of command (see – Secret-War). Three attacks on Israel within a week, in three different regions, cannot be just a coincidence. 

* Egypt blamed, on Wednesday 8/04/2010 morning, the Red Sea attacks on Gaza-based militants, who had apparently sneaked into the Egyptian Sinai peninsula, although Hamas denied responsibility.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement, on Wednesday 08/04/2010 evening, that Israel has “strong evidence” that Hamas in Gaza was behind the rocket barrage as well as the previous attack on 04/22/2010. “I want to make it clear to Hamas, and also to the government of Lebanon, which we see as responsible for the violent provocation against our soldiers, do not test our resolve to defend Israel’s civilians and soldiers,” he said.


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