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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lebanese, Israeli Armies Exchange Fire on Border

AVIVIM, Israel -- Lebanese troops and an Israeli army patrol exchanged fire on their shared border Wednesday in the first such incident since Lebanon deployed regular forces after Israel's war against Hezbollah.

A reporter at the scene and Israeli security sources said the clash began after the Lebanese troops shot in the air as the patrol crossed a security fence near the border village of Avivim to search for explosives planted by Hezbollah.

"We called for them to stop firing, they shot at us and we returned fire," an Israeli source said, adding that the Israeli patrol had not crossed into Lebanese territory.

There were no casualties in the clash.

"An Israeli bulldozer crossed into south Lebanon tonight. Our forces opened fire at it. It pulled back and there was a brief exchange of fire," a Lebanese army spokesman said.

A spokesman for UNIFIL, a United Nations peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon that was boosted after last year's war, confirmed that the exchange was initiated by the Lebanese army after an Israeli bulldozer crossed the border fence "in an apparent attempt to clear mines between the Blue Line [border] and the fence."

"We characterize this as a serious incident between the Lebanese army and the [Israeli Defense Forces]," he said. "The UNIFIL commander ... was in contact with both sides, urging them to cease hostilities and our current information is that at around 10:30 p.m. there was an end to the firing, but right now UNIFIL troops are deployed in the area."

Lebanon deployed its army along the frontier as part of a UN-brokered cease-fire that ended Israel's 34-day offensive against Hezbollah. The border has been largely quiet since then.

Israel ordered the searches around Avivim after discovering four explosive devices on the border Monday. Israeli officials accused Hezbollah of planting the bombs recently, but Hezbollah said it planted them before the July-August war.