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Lebanon arrests, then releases, US Jew over suspected Israel espionage — report

Man in his 20s reportedly detained for several days after Lebanese authorities find out he booked Beirut hotel reservation from Israel

Illustrative: Police in Beirut Lebanon, January 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
Illustrative: Police in Beirut Lebanon, January 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Lebanese security forces arrested an American Jew last week after finding out he had recently been in Israel, according to a Monday report.

He was detained in Beirut and released after several days, the Kan public broadcaster said.

Lebanese authorities apparently suspected the man of espionage or collaborating with Israel, the report said.

The man in his 20s had recently studied in a Jerusalem yeshiva and arrived in Lebanon after visiting Cyprus. He intended to travel from Lebanon to the Kurdish region of Iraq, the report said.

Officials involved in the case told Kan that after the man arrived in Lebanon and went to his hotel, Lebanese security forces arrested him there because they had discovered he ordered the hotel reservation from Israel.

His passport also had markings indicating it had been used in Israel.

The incident was kept quiet in Lebanon, as American officials, including Congress members, pressed for the man’s release, the report said.

He was eventually released on Thursday or Friday and traveled from Lebanon to the United Arab Emirates, Kan reported.

The report comes as Israel and Lebanon navigate delicate US-brokered negotiations over access to offshore gas reserves.

Israel and Lebanon are technically at war and do not have diplomatic ties, and the powerful Lebanese Hezbollah terror group has repeatedly threatened Israel over the gas fields.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said Monday the negotiations to end the maritime border dispute were in their “final stages.”

Prime Minister Yair Lapid expressed optimism but said Israel will extract gas from the Karish offshore field with or without an agreement.

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