A prisoner at the Israeli-run Ansar prison camp in southern Lebanon was shot and killed by guards last night during a disturbance, the Israeli military command announced today.
A brief statement issued by the Army provided few details of the incident but said that two other prisoners were wounded by gunfire and that two Israeli guards were "slightly wounded" by rocks thrown by the prisoners.
Describing the incident as a "riot," the Army statement said that "when the rioters didn't respond to calls to halt the stone throwing and go back to their places, the soldiers were compelled to open fire."
The statement pointedly did not say that the guards first fired in the air in an effort to quell the disturbance. The Army said it was investigating "the circumstances of the incident."
Military sources in Israel said tonight that it is standard procedure for Israeli soldiers to fire warning shots in the air before directing fire at participants in a disturbance. They said it was not yet clear to military officials in Israel exactly what happened during last night's disturbance.
The sources said that there has been a rise in tension at the prison camp in recent weeks but that it was impossible to predict whether there would be additional trouble at the facility. They said the tension level has "ebbed and flowed" since the camp was established.
The prisoner was the second to be killed at Ansar by Israeli guards in little over a month. On June 13, according to the Army, a prisoner was shot and killed during an escape attempt.
In Beirut, meanwhile, the body of a sixth victim was pulled from the rubble of the seaside Summerland Hotel, struck by an explosives-packed car on Wednesday, news services reported. Fifteen others were injured in the explosion.
The Ansar prison camp, located just west of the southern Lebanese city of Nabatiyah, was hastily established last summer after Israel's invasion of Lebanon. At one time it held close to 10,000 prisoners.
The camp now has about 5,000 inmates, most of them Palestinians but including about 1,000 Lebanese and a handful of other prisoners of diverse nationality.
The camp is divided into about 30 sections, each separated from the others by barbed wire and each holding more than 100 men. According to military sources, last night's incident was confined to one section and did not spread throughout the prison.
No other details were available tonight on the extent of the disturbance or what led to the shooting by the guards.
Ansar is in a part of southern Lebanon the Israelis have made clear they will not evacuate until Syrian and Palestinian forces agree to withdraw from northern and eastern Lebanon. This has left the prisoners uncertain about the length of their confinement and their ultimate fate, a factor Israeli officials have said is a major source of problems at the prison.
According to Israeli officials, before the two most recent shooting deaths of prisoners three other inmates were killed at Ansar. These deaths occurred Dec. 2 when, according to the Army, an Israeli soldier manning a machine gun on an armored vehicle accidentally discharged his weapon.