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UN Seeks to Calm Tensions on Israel-Lebanon Border

The United Nations is seeking to calm tensions on the Israel-Lebanon border after a sudden outbreak of violence this week.

United Nations, Israeli, and Lebanese commanders met in South Lebanon in a bid to ease tensions, following the deadliest border clash in four years on Tuesday. UNIFIL, the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon, urged both sides to avoid any action that could raise tensions.

UNIFIL political advisor Milos Struger says, "Our immediate priority of UNIFIL is to restore calm in the area. UNIFIL has been in contact with the top leadership with the Lebanese Army and with the command of the Israeli army urging maximum restraint."

Tensions soared Tuesday when a Lebanese sniper killed a senior Israeli officer as Israeli forces pruned trees in a disputed border area. Israel retaliated with tank fire and an air strike, killing two Lebanese soldiers and a journalist. It was the most serious border clash since the Lebanon War four years ago.

UNIFIL later determined Israeli forces were in their own territory, denying Lebanese claims that they had crossed the border. The U.S. State Department described the Lebanese fire on Israeli troops as "wholly unjustified and unwarranted."

In Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a stern warning.

He said Israel holds the government of Lebanon responsible for what he described as "the violent provocation" against Israeli troops. Mr. Netanyahu warned Lebanon not to test Israel's resolve, saying there would be a harsh military response to any further attacks.

Lebanese officials continue to insist Israeli forces crossed into Lebanese territory and the Lebanese Army acted in self-defense.

The incident raised fears of another war. In 2006, a deadly cross-border raid by Hezbollah guerrillas sparked a 34-day Israeli air and ground assault on Lebanon.