Tuesday, August 3, 2010

He said/She didn't say

There was an exchange of fire along the Israel-Lebanon border this morning resulting in the deaths of several military personnel on both sides.  Details are still coming in but note how Reuters reports on the incident:
"A patrol for the Israeli enemy crossed the technical line on the border ... even though the UNIFIL interfered trying to stop it, it continued its crossing," the Lebanese army said in a statement.
A Lebanese army force then repelled it using rocket propelled grenades. A clash happened in which the enemy forces used machine guns and tank fire targeting army posts and civilian houses," it said, adding casualties were reported.
Those are the 5th and 6th paragraphs of a 25-paragraph story.  Where is the corresponding Israeli statement on the incident?  Stashed down in the 18th and 19th paragraphs:
"Israel views the Lebanese government as responsible for this serious incident and is warning of the ramifications if the violations continue," the ministry said in a statement. 
The Israeli military said its troops were fired upon while engaged in "routine activity" inside Israeli territory, between an Israeli security fence and a U.N.-drawn border line.
Reuters cites a UNIFIL spokesman, the Lebanese President, the Syrian President, the Lebanese Prime Minister -- oh, and a currency dealer -- before finally getting around to reporting on the official Israeli position and then offers scant details of Israel's account of the incident.  Thus, readers are left with an imprint of Lebanon's narrative of what occurred.

And note the classic Reuters sneer with scarequotes around "routine activity".

Here are a few details Reuters omits:
Earlier today Israeli soldiers were fired upon by the Lebanese Army-please note our soldiers were on the Israeli side of the border. There is a gap between the “fence” and the actual border. Our soldiers had coordinated with UNIFIL the ongoing maintenance work on the fence. We were simply clearing some brush and shrubs from the fence area. You are reminded that this was the location of the abduction of several of our Israeli soldiers a few years ago. There was nothing unique about this ongoing maintenance work.Without provocation our soldiers were fired upon by a sniper(s) and we are still gathering intel on this point of the story. The facts are the soldiers doing the clearing work were located in one position and the Israeli commanders who were supervising the activity were located in an another location. It was these commanders that were initially shot at and regrettably a reserve Lt. Col was killed. A second commander , a Captain, was critically wounded and rushed to hospital. No further information available as to his condition.

This was a clear provocation-the soldiers doing the brush work were not initially fired upon, the Lebanese Army fired directly upon our commanders-clearly violating UN Res. 1701. I can confirm that there were no mortars fired onto our northern border. However, we were asked to cease retaliatory fire when our men were hit-we did so in order to allow the enemy to clear away its fallen soldiers (3). Thirty minutes after we honored the cease fire a RPG unit fired on one of our tanks. They missed, we responded and the RPG group went silent.

The border is now quiet, has been for a few hours. Israel is now engaged in more intel information gathering. This was the worst violation of the border since 2006. An evolving story and we thank the IDF for its work.

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