Jerusalem (Agencies) – Israel’s military on Friday denied claims by the Lebanese army that an Israeli patrol had crossed into southern Lebanon one day earlier.
“Our forces conducted Thursday a routine patrol south of the international Israeli-Lebanese border, and not in Lebanese territory, and UNIFIL (UN Interim Force) confirmed that,” a military spokesman told AFP.
Israeli troops frequently operate south of the border, he said.
The Lebanese army had said a 10-member Israeli patrol crossed the electronic fence on the Saddani hills between the towns of Kfarshuba and Shebaa and entered up to 50 meters and 100 meters (yards) into Lebanese territory.
A unit from the UN Interim Force intervened and forced the Israeli patrol to withdraw, it said.
Asked about the incident, a UNIFIL officer told AFP “UNIFIL sent technical experts to acertain the facts.”
In February, Lebanese and Israeli troops exchanged fire across the border for the first time in decades, after Israeli sappers moved towards the border to clear unexploded ordnance.
A bolstered UN peacekeeping force has been patrolling the volatile area with Lebanese soldiers since last year’s 34-day war between Israel and Shiite militia Hezbollah.
In southern Gaza Friday, Palestinian security forces and armed Palestinian civilians exchanged fire at a border crossing and one security officer was killed, witnesses and hospital officials said.
The fighting began after a Palestinian man, who tried to force his way through the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, began firing at Palestinian policemen guarding the crossing, witnesses and security sources said.
One Palestinian security officer was killed and three others, including a civilian, were wounded in the clash, hospital officials said.
A spokesman from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s presidential guard, which is in charge of security at Gaza’s border crossings, said armed civilians began hurling stones and then opened fire at the crossing terminal.
Israel has largely kept the Rafah crossing closed since Palestinian militants operating from Gaza tunnelled into southern Israel in June and abducted a soldier, who is still being held.