IDF Believes Single Lebanese Officer Behind Border Shooting

Lebanese company commander ordered sniper fire on Israeli post, which killed one Israeli officer and wounded another, IDF analysts believe.

Israel Defense Forces analysts believe that the Lebanese sniper fire at the Israel-Lebanon border on Tuesday, which killed Lt. Col. Dov Harari and seriously wounded Captain Ezra Lakia, was in fact an ambush planned by a Lebanese officer who was encouraged by his commanders.

Exchange of fire on the border between Israel and Lebanon - August 3, 2010

The exchange of fire began when Israeli soldiers approached the border in order to trim some bushes that had grown along the fence. The operation had been coordinated in advance with UNIFIL, which in turn informed the Lebanese army.

The Lebanese officer used the UNIFIL information and invited Lebanese media to the area in advance to document the incident, an IDF official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Israel Radio on Wednesday.

As in previous cases of such Israeli activity, the Lebanese army deployed soldiers to the area. After a round of yelling, unanswered by the Israeli troops, Lebanese snipers opened deliberate fire at the IDF observation post several hundred meters into Israel, the IDF said. Harari and Lakia had manned the observation post, and both sustained serious gunfire wounds.

According to information gathered by the IDF, the sniper fire was ordered by a commanding officer within the Lebanese army. The IDF has found no indication that the officer received an order to open fire, and believe that the decision was his alone. However, it is known that the particular officer was influenced by inciting remarks against Israel made by the top commanders of the Lebanese army in the recent past.

Following Israel's harsh response to the sniper fire, which included tank and artillery fire as well as the bombing from the air of Lebanese army posts, killing at least two Lebanese soldiers and a Lebanese journalist, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and President Michel Suleiman asked international bodies to impose an immediate cease-fire.