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Israeli forces, armed Lebanese troops square off in rare border confrontation

Incident occurs after IDF tanks and troops cross security fence, while remaining on Israeli side of Blue Line; UN peacekeepers arrive on scene

In this photo taken near Kibbutz Misgav Am, Lebanese soldiers and UNIFIL peacekeepers watch from the southern Lebanese village of Adaisseh as an IDF Merkava tank takes part in routine maneuvers near the border demarcation line, June 2, 2020. (Jalaa Marey/AFP)
In this photo taken near Kibbutz Misgav Am, Lebanese soldiers and UNIFIL peacekeepers watch from the southern Lebanese village of Adaisseh as an IDF Merkava tank takes part in routine maneuvers near the border demarcation line, June 2, 2020. (Jalaa Marey/AFP)

Israeli soldiers and a pair of tanks squared off against armed Lebanese troops on Tuesday while operating along the border between the countries.

The Israeli forces crossed the security fence near Kibbutz Misgav Am, but remained on the Israeli side of the so-called Blue Line, an unofficial but internationally recognized border. The security fence along the border is in many areas located some distance into Israeli territory.

This appeared to be the first time that Israeli tanks crossed the fence since the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

According to Channel 12 news, this was meant to serve as a show of control over the Israeli enclave on the other side of the barrier.

The network later aired video showing the tanks moving back toward the fence.

In response to the crossing, a number of Lebanese troops armed with rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers arrived at the scene, standing several meters from the tanks.

Peacekeepers from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) also came to the area to act as mediators and prevent violence.

Lebanon’s official National News Agency said the Lebanese Armed Forces soldiers were mobilized after “Israeli enemy infantry troops, backed by two Merkava tanks… crossed the technical fence” near the Lebanese village of Adaisseh.

No shots were fired, and no injuries were reported.

In April, Israel Defense Forces troops and Lebanese army soldiers also faced off in the same area, with photos from that irregular incident showing the two sides raising weapons at each other and UN personnel standing in between.

Soldiers inspect damage at the border fence between Israel and Lebanon, April 17, 2020 (Israel Defense Forces)

There has been a recent uptick in smuggling and infiltration attempts along the Israeli-Lebanese security fence, which the IDF believes is the result of the Hezbollah terror group either intentionally turning a blind eye to the area, allowing crime to flourish, or losing its control over the border.

Earlier Tuesday, the IDF said a Syrian national who was shot after he crossed the border into Israel from Lebanon last month, apparently to perform reconnaissance on behalf of Hezbollah, was sent back to Lebanon.

Israel has fought two wars in Lebanon, one in 1982 against Palestinian terrorists and one in 2006 against the Lebanese Hezbollah, as well as numerous operations against terror groups in the country.

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