Despite his critique of Lebanon, Crowley mentioned repeatedly the need to gather more information to fully understand what happened. The incident occurred as Israel was engaging in what Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich called routine maintenance work done “on a regular basis” on the Israeli side of the border. She then said that sniper squads from the LAF opened fire on the IDF there. In an interview with Bridges for Peace on Tuesday, Leibovich accused the LAF of planning the attack. “What the IDF understands is that we’re talking about a well-planned provocation that was some sort of a tactic by the Lebanese Armed Forces,” said Leibovich.
Crowley on Wednesday said that one of the issues that needs to be addressed is the coordination of activities along the border in order to prevent such tragic situations from occurring again. Leibovich, however, said the maintenance work was coordinated with UNIFIL, the United Nations forces in Lebanon. Crowley, while noting that it appears the Lebanese fired first and that the Israelis were on their side of the border, did not label the attack pre-planned or malicious.
“As to what actions were taken and what actions were misinterpreted on one side, we’ll have the opportunity to learn more facts and gain a full understanding of this,” said Crowley. “We don’t want to see a repeat of this. We don’t want to see these kinds of incidents increase tensions in the region.”
The last incident where the LAF exchanged fire with the IDF was in February of 2007, although there were no casualties then. The US on Wednesday called on both sides to exercise “maximum restraint” to avoid escalating the tensions further and linked regional peace with their desire to prevent more such incidents.
“We want to see tensions eased along the border between Israel and Lebanon. As we pursue peace in the region, we actually want to see progress on the Israeli-Lebanese track just as we want to see progress on the Israeli-Palestinian track and the Israeli-Syrian track,” said Crowley. “We want to see tensions ease. We want to see normalization of relations. This was a tragic episode. Let’s learn from this and find ways to avoid these kinds of flashpoints in the future.”
Posted on August 5, 2010
Source: (By Joshua Spurlock, BFP Israel Mosaic Radio, August 4, 2010)
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