Jerusalem — Israeli and Lebanese soldiers exchanged tank and artillery fire on Israel’s northern border.
Residents of Israel’s North were ordered to enter bomb shelters early Tuesday afternoon.
The soldiers were conducting routine operations in an area that lies between the international recognized border between Israel and Lebanon and the security fence, which is considered Israeli territory, according to an Israeli army statement.
A Lebanese army spokesman told reporters that the gunfire began after Israeli soldiers attempted to dig up a tree on the Lebanese side of the border. He said Israel fired first, according to Ynet.
Israeli troops fired four rockets that landed near Lebanese troops, the French news agency AFP reported. Lebanese troops fired at an Israeli tank, according to reports.
Reports that Katyusha rockets were fired into Israel have not been verified.
Officials from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon called on the two countries’ armies to exercise “maximum restraint” following the incident.
Lebanese President Michel Suleiman reportedly said his country would “stand up to Israel’s violation of UN Resolution 1701 – whatever the cost.” The resolution led to a cease-fire that ended the Second Lebanon war in 2006.
Tension has increased between Israel and Lebanon in recent months amid reports that Hezbollah is building weapons supplies in preparation for another war with Israel.
“This recent violation is one of many violations of Resolution 1701, the most severe of which is the massive rearmament of Hezbollah, including the rearmament of Hezbollah units in southern Lebanon.” said a statement issued Tuesday afternoon by Israel’s Foreign Ministry .
“Israel holds the Lebanese government responsible for the grave incident, and warns of the consequences should these continue,” the statement added.
The attack came a day after rockets suspected to have been fired from Sinai landed in Eilat and in Jordan.