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IDF says it arrested shepherd who entered Israel from Lebanon

Lebanese media claims man ‘kidnapped’ from inside Lebanon after arrest in disputed border area of Mount Dov

Illustrative: A United Nations peacekeeping force (UNIFIL) convoy patrols next to Naqoura, in Lebanon near its border with Israel, October 13, 2020. (Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP)
Illustrative: A United Nations peacekeeping force (UNIFIL) convoy patrols next to Naqoura, in Lebanon near its border with Israel, October 13, 2020. (Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP)

The Israel Defense Forces said Tuesday that troops had arrested a shepherd who crossed into Israeli territory from Lebanon.

An IDF statement said the shepherd was taken for questioning after he was nabbed near Mount Dov, a contested area claimed by Israel, Lebanon and Syria.

“The IDF won’t allow any attempt to violate the sovereignty of the State of Israel,” the statement said.

The Iran-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah has been reported to use shepherds to gather intelligence on Israeli military operations along the border.

Lebanese state media also reported the incident, claiming that the shepherd was “kidnapped” at 4 p.m. in the Kfarchouba area and “taken into Israeli territory.”

The Lebanese army identified the shepherd as Hassan Qasem Zahra and said he had been guarding livestock when he was detained.

The IDF said the shepherd had crossed the Blue Line, the United Nations-drawn frontier established in 2000 after Israeli troops withdrew from southern Lebanon. It is patrolled by a UN peacekeeping mission, UNIFIL.

The Lebanese army said in a statement that it was following up on the matter in coordination with the UN force.

Israeli soldiers near Mount Dov, at the border with Lebanon in northern Israel, on January 4, 2016. (Basel Awidat/FLASH90)

UNIFIL will launch an investigation into the circumstances of the incident, “including the exact location where the man was arrested,” force spokesman Andrea Tenenti said.

Mission chief Major General Stefano Del Col has contacted the various parties to obtain the shepherd’s release, he added.

The incident comes as Israeli military aircraft have regularly crossed into Lebanese airspace in recent days, sometimes flying at low altitude.

Israel and Lebanon are still technically at war and the border area is the site of sporadic incidents.

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