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Israel-Lebanon Border Tense After Deadly Clash

Israel's border with Lebanon is tense but quiet, a day after a deadly clash raised fears of a new round of conflict.

The United Nations peacekeeping force in south Lebanon has backed Israel's version of events following the most serious border clash in four years on Tuesday. UNIFIL says Israeli forces were on their own territory when Lebanese troops opened fire.

Lebanese version of events

Lebanon said the Israelis had crossed into Lebanese territory while trying to prune a cypress tree for better visibility, and that the army acted in self-defense against Israeli "aggression."

Middle East expert Robert Danin discusses the border clash:

Lebanese Information Minister Tarik Mitri stands by that account. He told a news conference in Beirut that Lebanon and the U.N. disagree on the demarcation of the border.

"There is always a distinction that needs to be made between the so-called 'technical fence' and the international borders between Israel and Lebanon, and the area where the tree that was to be cut yesterday is Lebanese territory," Mitri said.

The incident in question

In Tuesday's incident, an Israeli battalion commander was killed by Lebanese sniper fire and another officer seriously wounded. Israel responded with tank fire and a helicopter strike, killing two Lebanese soldiers and a journalist. It was the deadliest eruption of violence on the border since the Lebanon War in 2006.

Israeli Minister of Intelligence, Dan Meridor, said the UNIFIL report proves that the Lebanese Army launched an unprovoked attack on Israel.

He told Israel Radio that Lebanon must make sure that such incidents will not be repeated.

UN backs Israeli account

Backed by the U.N. account, Israeli troops returned to the border area on Wednesday and continued pruning trees and bushes which could provide cover for terrorists.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israel Radio that the army will continue to operate in Israeli territory. He warned that if Lebanese forces open fire again, Israel would have to respond.

Lebanese troops watched the Israeli border operation from a distance, but this time they did not intervene.