TEL AVIV (Dec. 29)
An incident that set off intensive fighting this week in southern Lebanon’s security zone may have been caused by an Israeli patrol unit commander’s error.
During routine patrol Tuesday in the buffer zone, Israeli soldiers set off two land mines.
One soldier was originally said to have suffered slight injuries to his leg. But after he was admitted to Nahariya Hospital, surgeons had to amputate his foot.
A preliminary Israel Defense Force investigation into the incident indicates the cause was not hostile activity but an error by the patrol commander, who led the squad into an area filled with mines set by the Israelis themselves.
Throughout Tuesday there were a series of mortar and artillery exchanges between forces of the Islamic fundamentalist Hezbollah movement and the IDF. The exchanges culminated in three air strikes by the Israeli air force, which carried out the third sortie on Hezbollah targets north of the security zone shortly before midnight.
The IDF Northern Command suspended the squad commander whose error led his patrol into the minefield, pending a complete military review.