Lebanese man arrested upon return from Israel after 17 years
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Lebanese man arrested upon return from Israel after 17 years

Shadi Butros Mezher, 31, fled with his family to Jewish state in 2000; handed himself over to Lebanese military Thursday

View of Lebanon as seen from the Israeli side of the border near Rosh Hanikra, in northwestern Israel, November 10, 2016 (Doron Horowitz/Flash90)
View of Lebanon as seen from the Israeli side of the border near Rosh Hanikra, in northwestern Israel, November 10, 2016 (Doron Horowitz/Flash90)

Lebanon’s state news agency said Thursday the military has detained a Lebanese national crossing into the country from Israel.

The National News Agency said a 31-year-old Lebanese national crossed the militarized border on Thursday to return to Lebanon after leaving to Israel 17 years ago.

Israel withdrew from south Lebanon in 2000. The two countries are technically still at war.

Hundreds of Lebanese nationals fled with the retreating Israeli forces, facing accusations of collaboration.

The NNA said the Lebanese national left his family in Israel to return to his country of birth. He handed himself over to the military for questioning.

The Israeli army confirmed that a suspect was identified crossing the border.

Lebanese media reports identified the man Shadi Butros Mezher, 31, from Jezzine.

The Haaretz daily said Mezher’s family was affiliated with the disbanded, Israel-aligned South Lebanon Army, a proxy militia that helped Israel defend its so-called “security zone” in southern Lebanon. The zone, designed to protect northern Israel from attack, was dismantled in 2000 when Israel withdrew from Lebanon to the international border. Haaretz described Mezher as an Israeli citizen.

In April, a Lebanese man was arrested after illegally crossing into Israel. The man, Ali Mari, was detained at a bus station in Kiryat Shmona, approximately three kilometers (two miles) from the Lebanese border, after police received calls reporting a suspicious-looking person. He was unarmed.

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