Israeli Soldier Killed on Northern Border by Shots Fired From Lebanon

UN peacekeepers hold dialogue between the two sides to prevent escalation, in the first such incident in 3 years.

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An Israeli soldier was killed on Sunday evening by shots fired from Lebanese territory. The shooter was evidently a Lebanese soldier.

Israel has lodged a complaint with the Lebanese government and with the United Nations, but it does not seem as though this incident will lead to a broader confrontation between the two countries.

The soldier, Master Sgt. Sholmi Cohen, 31, was a resident of Afula, according to the Israel Defense Forces. His family has been informed of his death.

Around 8:30 P.M. an Israeli military vehicle moving near the border with Lebanon was struck by six or seven bullets fired from a light firearm, evidently from a relatively short distance. The incident occurred just east of an IDF post in Rosh Hanikra.

The Lebanese army declared high alert in the area, and reported similar action on Israel's part. The IDF did not immediately respond to the incident.

Witnesses reported seeing Israeli helicopters flying over southern Lebanon, and that flares were fired in the area for illumination.

The IDF was concerned at first that the incident was a Lebanese attempt to distract the Israeli force to enable armed militants to cross the border, but an investigation has concluded that there was no infiltration and that the shooter did not belong to Hezbollah.

A senior Israeli officer said that the military is on standby in the north, and is weighing its response.

"The IDF will continue investigating the incident, and will not tolerate any attack on the citizens of Israel. The IDF reserves the right to respond at the appropriate place at the appropriate time," the IDF said.

This is the first incident of its kind in three years.

A spokesperson for the United Nations Force in Lebanon said that representatives of the international force were in dialogue with both sides in an attempt to prevent escalation and preserve the calm. He said the incident occurred on the Israeli side of the border and that the rest of the details were under investigation. Both sides were cooperating, he said.

Fire was opened last week on the Israeli border with Lebanon, apparently by Lebanese snipers. The IDF forces fired back in response.

Last month, two IDF officers were wounded by an explosive device near the Israel-Lebanon border. The officers were hurt while undertaking a planned demolition during an operation near the border.

At the time, an IDF official said the incident was unrelated to terrorism, but rather an explosion that occurred near a base during routine operational activity.

Last August, four soldiers were wounded in an explosion that occured near the Lebanese border. The troops were involved in cross-border operations when the blast occurred.

Archive photo showing IDF soldier on Israel's border with Lebanon.Credit: Yaron Kaminsky
Master Sgt. Shlomi Cohen.

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