UN urges restraint after Israel-Lebanon border clash

BBC's Wyre Davies: "The UN is putting pressure on both governments to pull back from the brink"

Israel and Lebanon must show "utmost restraint", the UN Security Council says, after a clash between troops on the border left five people dead.

The UN urged both sides to abide by the deal that ended the last cross-border conflict in 2006.

Both sides blamed each other after three Lebanese soldiers, a Lebanese journalist and an Israeli officer died in the fighting.

Tensions are often high along the heavily fortified frontier.

But Tuesday's deaths marked the most serious incident since 2006, when Israel fought a 34-day conflict with the Lebanese Shia militant group, Hezbollah.

Analysis

This appears to have been an incident between regular Lebanese troops and the Israeli army.

It would perhaps have been more serious had this been a confrontation between Hezbollah forces and Israel, as was the case back in 2006.

Israel's traditional foe along this border is Hezbollah. Hezbollah is known to have re-armed with missiles ever since the 2006 conflict and the big fear here in northern border area is of a resumption of the battle between Israel and Hezbollah.

The fact that Israel has not put towns and communities in the area on a state of high alert yet is perhaps an indication that Israel does not expect this to escalate further.

Although the most recent skirmish involved soldiers from the regular army, Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said his militants would not "stand idle".

The Lebanese army said Israeli soldiers crossed the border to uproot a tree which was blocking their view.

Troops then fired warning shots and Israel responded with fire from artillery positions and helicopters.

Israel denied the crossing the border and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would respond "aggressively" to any attack.

UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon say they have seen no evidence that Israeli soldiers had crossed into Lebanon, reports the BBC's Wyre Davies, from the border between the two countries.

The Security Council met to discuss the clash, and afterwards Russia's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said both sides must "strictly abide by their obligations" under the UN resolution that ended the 2006 conflict.

Footage shows Israeli forces on an operation near the Israel-Lebanon border

He said they must "observe the cessation of hostilities and prevent any further escalation".

The UN statement followed a similar plea from US state department spokesman PJ Crowley.

"The region has enough tension as it is, the last thing that we want to see is that this incident expand into something more significant," he said.

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Middle East stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.