Man shot after crossing into Israel, apparently to spy, returned to Lebanon
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Man shot after crossing into Israel, apparently to spy, returned to Lebanon

Military says suspect, a Syrian, was wounded after behaving suspiciously when troops came to arrest him; Red Cross coordinates his transfer back

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Illustrative: An Israeli patrol along the Lebanon/Israel border fence near Rosh Hanikra, on November 10, 2016. (Doron Horowitz/Flash90)
Illustrative: An Israeli patrol along the Lebanon/Israel border fence near Rosh Hanikra, on November 10, 2016. (Doron Horowitz/Flash90)

A Syrian national who was shot after he crossed the border into Israel from Lebanon last month, apparently to perform reconnaissance on behalf of the Hezbollah terror group, was sent back to Lebanon on Tuesday, the Israel Defense Forces said.

On May 17, the shepherd entered the area of Har Dov, or Shebaa Farms — a disputed region along the Israeli-Lebanese border under Israeli control — with a walkie-talkie as he was apparently performing surveillance on behalf of Hezbollah, according to the military.

Golani Brigade soldiers arrived at the scene to detain him, firing their guns into the air to warn him to stop. The man, who was unarmed, allegedly behaved suspiciously and one of the troops opened fire at him, seriously injuring him, according to the IDF.

The man was flown to Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center for treatment. In the hospital he was questioned by security forces.

“The suspect received medical treatment in Israel and was released after interrogation,” the military said in a statement on Tuesday.

According to the IDF, the International Red Cross transported him back to Lebanon through the rarely used Rosh Hanikra border crossing.

“The IDF takes seriously all attempts to violate Israeli sovereignty,” the military said.

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

On April 17, the IDF found that damage was caused to the fence at three locations along the border. A day later, Israel officially accused the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group of being responsible for the vandalism, which was seen in Israel as a threat, and Foreign Minister Israel Katz instructed the Foreign Ministry to file a complaint at the UN Security Council.

Also in April, IDF troops and Lebanese army soldiers faced off near the border in a highly irregular incident, with photos from the scene showing the two sides raising weapons at each other and UN personnel standing in between. The incident took place between the southern Lebanese village of Adaisseh and the northern Israeli town of Metulla, UNIFIL spokesperson Andrea Tenenti told The Times of Israel, saying that while it was south of the Blue Line — the unofficial, but widely recognized border between the two countries — Lebanon deems the area to be contested.

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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