BEIRUT: Senior Lebanese army commanders planned and authorised the cross-border shooting on Tuesday that killed an Israel Defence Forces colonel who was supervising the removal of a tree within Israeli territory, the Lebanese press has reported.
The acknowledgement came at a United Nations-brokered meeting between Major-General Abdul Rahman Chehaitly of the Lebanese army and a senior Israeli officer on Wednesday.
The Lebanese newspaper As-Safir reported that General Chehaitly told the meeting the shooting was the result of a command decision and could be repeated.
"The soldiers received clear orders to open fire. The responsibility is that of the Israeli army which crossed the border," General Chehaitly said.
A senior diplomatic source, who spoke to the Herald on condition of anonymity, said preliminary investigations by UN personnel monitoring the border also indicated the Lebanese army planned the attack.
The source said the UN Interim Force in Lebanon advised Lebanese army commanders early on Tuesday morning that the Israelis would be removing a tree on their side of the border early in the afternoon.
Several hours before the Israelis moved in to begin that work, a senior Lebanese army unit arrived at the Lebanese village of al-Adeisa, which overlooks the site where the tree was to be removed, and took control of the area.
They were accompanied by several journalists linked to media outlets controlled by the radical Shiite movement Hezbollah, which controls southern Lebanon, the source said.