Israeli officials estimated Wednesday that an incident along the northern border with Lebanon, which left four Israeli soldiers wounded, would not lead to an escalation at this time, as UN peacekeepers opened an investigation into the event and asked the IDF for details.
Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV station on Wednesday ran purported footage from the scene of the explosion. Al-Manar also accused Israel of misleading peacekeepers with regard to the incident.
The TV station said that the clip, which was said to have been taken near the Lebanese town of Naqoura, provided evidence that IDF troops had violated Lebanese sovereignty by operating over the border.
The soldiers were on a security mission in Lebanon when a land mine exploded near the Labbouneh road, some 400 meters (440 yards) from the Lebanese-Israeli border, the TV station said.
According to Al-Manar, Israel did not inform the UN peacekeeping force in the area of the event despite the fact that it took place only several hundred meters from a UNIFIL post. When peacekeepers first turned to the IDF, according to the Hezbollah-based report, the military responded that it was shooting off flares.
According to the IDF, the incident happened during regular “overnight activity adjacent to the northern border.” The army said it would “continue to act to maintain the security along the northern border,” but did not provide further details.
A statement by the Lebanese army said the soldiers were hurt after crossing the border into Lebanon, while a Lebanese military official told al-Jazeera that the soldiers had stepped on a land mine after crossing the border on foot.
The IDF’s spokesperson unit said that the soldiers injured by the explosion were taken to Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya. Two of the soldiers were rushed into surgery, while the other two were in the intensive care unit, according to a report by Israel’s Channel 10.
One of the soldiers was released on Wednesday afternoon.
A UN spokesman said that UNIFIL was investigating the incident and added that a team of peacekeepers had traveled to the location where the Lebanese army is claiming the blast occurred. UNIFIL has requested that the IDF provide it with details about the incident, reported Israel Radio.
Lebanon’s foreign minister, Adnan Mansour, said Beirut would file a complaint with the UN Security Council. And overnight Wednesday Israel Radio was reporting that the government had done so. Mansour said that the incident “reveals again the Israeli enemy’s hidden intentions through its infiltration of Lebanese territory.”
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that the IDF had yet to determine the source of the explosion.
“We’re investigating the incident in order to understand whether it was a new or old explosive charge,” Ya’alon said. “Of course we will learn from this and draw conclusions but activities will continue in a levelheaded fashion in order to ensure the security of Israel’s citizens.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted to the incident while on a tour of a new IDF training facility under construction in the Negev.
“There’s something that unites the south and the north and all our other frontiers – the IDF soldiers who defend us and our borders,” he told IDF soldiers during his visit.
“That’s what happened last night,” he added. “We’ll continue to act responsibly to protect Israel’s borders.”
“I want to send in my name, in the name of the defense minister, in the name of all of you, our wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded. We will continue to do our duty to defend our country,” he said.
Aaron Kalman, Haviv Rettig Gur, Yoel Goldman and AP contributed to this report.