Home inContext Israeli Killed in Skirmish Near Lebanon

Israeli Killed in Skirmish Near Lebanon

Michael Johnson

A Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) sniper shot and killed an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldier on Sunday near Israel’s border with Lebanon. During a subsequent investigation of the scene, Israeli soldiers shot at two “suspicious people,” wounding one LAF soldier.

The IDF released the name of the slain soldier as Master Sgt. Shlomi Cohen, 31. According to reports, Cohen’s military vehicle was struck by a half dozen bullets around 8:30 pm near the Rosh Hanikra army post. Israeli officials worried that the incident could have been a planned diversion meant to sneak Hezbollah fighters across the border, but later ruled out that hypothesis.

Soldiers stood guard on Monday in Rosh Hanikra, Israel, near the site of a shooting on Sunday that killed an Israeli soldier (Photo: AP).

On Monday, IDF and Lebanese officials met with U.N. peacekeepers in the area. United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) commander Major General Paolo Serra said, “All the circumstances of this incident are not clear at this time, but preliminary findings indicate that it was an individual action by a soldier in contravention of the existing operational rules and procedures.” The Lebanese soldier turned himself in to military authorities and Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said he understood the soldier would be prosecuted.

Both Israeli and Lebanese representatives appeared interested in defusing tensions, but Israeli officials emphasized Israel’s right to self defense and also lodged a complaint against the LAF at the UN mission.

The Lebanese-Israeli border has been relatively quiet in recent years following Israel’s 2006 war against Hezbollah. Formal fighting ended after the UN Security Council backed a ceasefire returning prisoners from the conflict. However, Hezbollah’s large rocket arsenals in Southern Lebanon, could pose a significant threat to Israeli civilians. Currently the Shiite terrorist group remains preoccupied with Syria’s civil war. Sunday’s incident shows the border remains dangerous — during the past few months two explosions have injured Israeli personnel in the area.