Since the Second Lebanon War four years ago, Israel has frequently operated in the enclave situated on the other side of the security fence with Lebanon but still within the "blue line" of Israeli territory. In some places the "blue line" is very close to the fence, while in others the enclave is as much as 800 meters wide.
Until the last war, Israel did not enter the enclave, where Hezbollah acted freely. It was in this area that IDF soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser were kidnapped in the attack that set off the Second Lebanon War.
However, over the past few months IDF forces stationed along the northern border have reported a deterioration in relations with the Lebanese Army, including the aiming of weapons at IDF soldiers operating in the enclave. Harsher rhetoric against the IDF by Lebanese commanders has also been reported.
The Lebanese Army deployed three brigades in southern Lebanon after the Second Lebanon War and is soon to deploy a fourth brigade.
The army's battalions were once built along ethnic lines, with the soldiers in the various units dividing their loyalty between the army's high command and their ethnic leaders.
In the past the Lebanese Army was considered an adversary of Hezbollah in terms of the right to bear arms; however, recently army commanders at all levels have moved closer to the Hezbollah leadership.
The Lebanese Army had also been considered relatively friendly to Israel until recently, when incidents increased of Lebanese troops aiming weapons at IDF soldiers operating in the enclave.
Yesterday's incident is the most serious since the end of the Second Lebanon War, and the first in which IDF soldiers have been injured.
The past four years have been considered the quietest ever on the northern border, with only four Katyusha launches at Israel, all by small, radical Palestinian groups. Only one Israeli was injured very slightly by glass fragments.
Until yesterday, the Lebanese Army opened fire on Israel only once, in early 2007, at soldiers operating in the enclave in the area of Moshav Avivim. The soldiers were not injured and an Israeli tank returned fire, injuring five Lebanese soldiers.