A senior Israeli security official charged that a Lebanese Army officer provoked Tuesday's rare exchange of fire along the Israel-Lebanese border, which had sparked fears of another flare-up of violence in the volatile area, dpa reported.
The officer, the official said, had planned the provocation, used information passed on to him by the United Nations force in southern Lebanon (UNIFIL), and invited the Lebanese media to the area in advance to document the incident.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity to Israel Radio.
Calm prevailed Wednesday along the Israel-Lebanon border, hours after the exchange between between the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and the Lebanese Army, which killed two Lebanese troops, an Israeli commander and a Lebanese journalist of the al-Akhbar newspaper, close to the radical Shiite Hezbollah organization.
Israel said Lebanese Army troops opened fire at an Israeli force which was clearing bushes and trees at the border fence in a routine maintenance operation. It says the force was working on the Israeli side of the border and had given advance notice to UNIFIL, which in turn had briefed the Lebanese Army as required. The IDF published an aerial photograph, showing the Israeli clearing force was on the Israeli side of the internationally recognized "Blue Line."
Five more Lebanese soldiers were wounded, two of them seriously, and an Israeli reserve captain was critically wounded. A piece of shrapnel was removed from his heart overnight, officials at Rambam hospital in the northern Israeli port city of Haifa said.
The flare-up was unusual with Israeli troops trading fire with the Lebanese Army, instead of with gunmen from the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, which has a strong presence in the area.
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah late Tuesday described the lethal border clash as "heroic."
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, on vacation in Italy, slammed Israel's "aggression" against his country.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said Israel views the clash as a "clear violation" of UN Security Council resolution 1701, which ended a deadly 33-day clash between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006.
The 15-country Security Council held a closed meeting later Tuesday on the border clash, with members calling "for utmost restraint" and for both sides to abide by resolution 1701.
The US State Department and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton have expressed concern and urged both Israel and Lebanon to take steps to prevent further violence or an escalation of tensions, and to probe the incident.