Around 30 Lebanese soldiers, Hezbollah members crossed briefly into Israeli territory

Mostly armed, uniformed troops, with handful of unarmed terror group activists, said to have spent 20 minutes over boundary last week; IDF asked UNIFIL to expel them

Israeli soldiers guard on the border with Lebanon, May 16, 2023. (Ayal Margolin/ Flash90)
Illustrative: Israeli soldiers guard on the border with Lebanon, May 16, 2023. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)

Dozens of Lebanese soldiers along with some members of the Hezbollah terror group crossed into Israeli territory last week, before eventually heading back across the border, Army Radio reported Sunday.

The group, most of whom were armed, left after spending around 20 minutes on the Israeli side of the boundary without breaching the actual border fence.

While Israel Defense Forces were in the area, Israel asked the UN peacekeeping force on the Lebanon-Israel border to attend to the matter, according to the report.

The IDF told Army Radio that the incident was dealt with via mediators.

It came amid tensions over increased Hezbollah activity along the border, including the recent establishment of two tents inside Israeli territory at another location in recent weeks, and the firing of an anti-tank missile from Lebanon at the border area last week.

According to the Army Radio report, IDF troops were engaged in work on the border on July 5, the day before the anti-tank missile fire, near Kibbutz Manara, located on the Ramim Ridge.

As the work was being carried out, around 30 people, most of them armed and uniformed Lebanese Army Soldiers, as well as a few alleged Hezbollah terror group operatives — who were not armed or in uniform — crossed the border and entered Israeli territory.

Illustrative: Israeli soldiers on the northern Israeli border with Lebanon, May 24, 2023. (Ayal Margolin/FLASH90)

The boundary, known as the Blue Line, is marked with blue barrels along the border and is several meters from the Israeli fence in some areas, which is built entirely within Israeli territory.

According to the report, while the Lebanese were apparently aware that they were entering Israeli territory, they did not breach the border fence.

Shortly before the incident, two Lebanese men drew close to an IDF machine that was working in the border area, Army Radio said. On that occasion, IDF soldiers fired in the air to drive them away.

The IDF said in a statement to Army Radio that the incident happened during routine engineering work in the Ramim Ridge region of the border.

The army stressed that the work continued uninterrupted despite the border violation. An IDF source confirmed to Army Radio that the suspects crossed into Israeli territory, and that the incident was resolved after “a conversation” via mediating channels.

The day after that incident, an anti-tank guided missile fired from Lebanon at Israel exploded on the border fence close to the northern village of Ghajar.

The IDF said that in response it carried out artillery strikes against the area from which the missile was launched. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

An aerial photo of Hezbollah tents in Israeli territory, June 2023. (Courtesy)

Tensions have been rising on the border after the Hezbollah terror organization set up two tents several dozen meters inside Israeli territory last month. Hezbollah evacuated one of the two tents last week.

The Mount Dov area where the tents were erected, also known as Shebaa Farms, was captured by Israel from Syria during the 1967 Six Day War and later effectively annexed along with the Golan Heights. The Lebanese government says the area belongs to Lebanon.

Last month, Hezbollah said it shot down an Israeli drone flying over a village in southern Lebanon. The group has in the past claimed to have downed Israeli drones, and Israel’s military also has said in the past that it has shot down Hezbollah drones.

Israel and Hezbollah fought a month-long war in 2006.

Hezbollah has long been the IDF’s most potent adversary on Israel’s borders, with an estimated arsenal of nearly 150,000 rockets and missiles that can reach anywhere in Israel.

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