Lebanon army says one soldier killed in Israeli shelling on border post

Israeli army says expresses ‘regret over incident’, reviewing strike that harmed Lebanese troops.

A picture taken from the Israeli side of border with Lebanon shows Israeli shelling around the southern Lebanese village of Aita al-Shaab on December 5
A picture taken from the Israeli side of the border with Lebanon shows Israeli shelling around the southern Lebanese village of Aita al-Shaab on December 5 [Jalaa Marey/AFP]

A Lebanese soldier has been killed in Israeli shelling on a military post near the country’s southern border, Lebanon’s army said, the first such death since cross-border hostilities began in October.

Three others were wounded, according to an army statement on Tuesday, after the attack on the frontier post on Oweida hill.

On Wednesday, the Israeli army expressed “regret over the incident” and said it was reviewing a strike that harmed Lebanese troops.

“The Lebanese Armed Forces were not the target of the strike. The IDF expresses regret over the incident. The incident is under review,” the military said in a statement.

“An army military position in the … Odaisseh area was bombarded by the Israeli enemy, leaving one soldier martyred and three others injured,” according to the statement from Lebanon’s army.

The attack marked the first time that a member of Lebanon’s armed forces has been killed since the current round of fighting between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas in Gaza started on October 7.

Since then, Israel and armed groups in southern Lebanon – some 200km (124 miles) from the Gaza Strip, particularly the powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah, have engaged in back-and-forth exchanges across the border that have killed more than 100 people, about 80 of them Hezbollah fighters.

Since Friday, when a truce between Hamas and Israel collapsed, Israeli forces and Hezbollah have exchanged fire across the Israel-Lebanon border on a daily basis.

On Tuesday, Hezbollah said that its fighters had attacked four Israeli positions along the border, while Israel said that several missiles launched from southern Lebanon fell in vacant areas.

Lebanon’s National News Agency reported that Israeli forces had shelled and carried out air raids in the area of southern Lebanon near the border.

Despite the steady pace of tit-for-tat reprisals, Israel and Hezbollah have so far taken steps to avoid an escalation that could lead to a large-scale war. Lebanon’s army has not been involved in the fighting.

In late November, a UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon said that its forces had come under fire from Israeli forces, an incident it called “deeply troubling”.

Noting the Lebanese army confirmation of its soldier killed in Israeli shelling, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said that the “Lebanese Armed Forces have not engaged in conflict with Israel”, and that “we have seen a rapid and alarming increase in violence”.

Tens of thousands of people in communities near the borders of both countries have evacuated their homes, fearful that they could be caught up in the middle of an escalation if it eventually takes place.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies