Deadly border clashes lasted 30 minutes between Lebanon, Israel: UN official

August 5, 2010 10:15 am 

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 5 — A senior UN official said on Wednesday that the deadly border clashes between the Israeli and Lebanese armies on Tuesday lasted "roughly half an hour."

UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy told a press conference here that the exchange of fire was followed immediately by efforts of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to "ensure the return of calm."

The clashes occurred on the UN-drawn border, known as the Blue Line, created after the withdrawal of the Israeli army from southern Lebanon in 2000. An Israeli soldier and four Lebanese were killed, including a journalist.

Despite the presence of UNIFIL troops in the area, Le Roy said they were unable to prevent the fatal clashes.

"We came immediately to mitigate the effects of any act of violence there, but we were not able to prevent the start. But we were able to have a ceasefire as soon as possible," he said.

Reiterating a statement issued by UNIFIL, Le Roy noted that trees cut by the Israeli army that are suspected to have led to the clashes, were located south of the Blue Line on the Israeli side.

UNIFIL has increased their presence in the area as Israel announced that it would proceed with removing the tree, Le Roy told reporters.

"The tree has been finally cut this morning without any specific incident," he said.

Having returned from a recent trip to Lebanon, Le Roy said that neither Lebanese nor Israeli officials indicated that tensions would amount to the deadly exchange of fire.

"No one was expecting a specific incident like this," he added. (PNA/Xinhua)

ALM/ebp

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