In a rare apology, Israeli Defence Forces on Wednesday expressed regret at an inadvertent attack in which a Lebanese soldier was killed while it targeted a Hezbollah-linked post and said the incident is under review.
Clashes at Israel's northern border with Lebanon have intensified with regular exchanges of fire since the war broke out in Gaza between Hamas militants and Israel on October 7.
Israeli forces have mainly responded to attacks from the Shia faction Hezbollah, backed by Iran, which has claimed that it was unaware of the October 7 attack, calling its origin and execution local in nature.
In addresses to supporters, the faction's leader Hasan Nasrallah has distanced his organisation and its Iranian masters from any responsibility in the October 7 incident but expressed support for Hamas raising fears of a possible wider conflagration in the region.
Israel has issued stern warnings but taken every possible step to keep the escalation at its northern border in check. It has also evacuated several communities and townships close to the northern border.
“An army military position in the.........was bombarded by the Israeli enemy, leaving one soldier martyred and three others injured,” the Lebanese army said in a statement.
The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in posts from its handle on social media platform X said that it "acted to neutralise a tangible threat" earlier today identified at a Hezbollah launch and observation post along the border.
In another post, it said that “the IDF received a report that a number of soldiers in Lebanon’s army were injured during the attack".
"Lebanese army forces were not the target of the attack”, it said, adding “The IDF regrets the incident, and it will be investigated”.
The surprising response is a clear indication that Israel wants to limit its fight in the Lebanese territory and would like to keep other ethnic groups not backing or opposing Hezbollah out of the conflagration.
Hezbollah, according to political commentators, has created a state within the state and its army is considered stronger than the national army.
United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which has been stationed in south Lebanon since 1978 mandated with the task of maintaining peace through various UN resolutions, in a statement said that “the Lebanese Armed Forces have not engaged in conflict with Israel".
“During the last days, we have seen a rapid and alarming increase in violence,” UNIFIL said, urging an end to “the cycle of violence, which could lead to devastating consequences for people on both sides”.
Hezbollah has said that 79 of its members have been killed since the war’s outbreak in southern Lebanon.
Six Israeli soldiers and three civilians have also been killed since the recent escalation following Hamas' October 7 attack.
The fighting has displaced tens of thousands from Israel’s northern communities, which have been pummeled by rocket fire and shelling carried out by Hezbollah and allied Palestinian groups.
Lebanon, whose highly divided ethnic demography has in the past led to internal civil war, is perennially absorbed in a threat of internal strife caused by nagging mistrust among its three major population groups - Maronite Christians, Sunnis and Shias.
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