Two soldiers hurt in explosion of old mine on Lebanon border

Military says incident not an attack, occurred during routine engineering work along northern frontier; one hurt moderately, one lightly

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Israeli troops are seen carrying a wounded soldier on the border with Lebanon after an old mine exploded, March 21, 2023. (Screenshot: Twitter)
Israeli troops are seen carrying a wounded soldier on the border with Lebanon after an old mine exploded, March 21, 2023. (Screenshot: Twitter)

Two Israeli soldiers were hurt when an old landmine exploded on the border with Lebanon on Tuesday, the military said.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the mine exploded during routine engineering activity on the northern side of the security barrier, which is built inside Israeli territory.

The IDF said there was no fear of the incident being an attack, but was still investigating what set off the mine and why it was not detected by the forces.

The pair were taken to Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya, which said one of the soldiers was listed in moderate but stable condition, while the other was lightly hurt.

Ali Shoeib, a reporter for the Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese news outlet Al-Manar, published footage from the incident on the border.

Many of Israel’s border regions, near Lebanon — in the Golan Heights, and southern Arava region — are pocked with minefields planted during wars in the early years of the state.

Some mines were planted by the Israeli military, while others were put there by Syria and Jordan.

Efforts to remove them are dangerous and have been painstakingly slow, leaving the area near the Lebanon border, in the Golan, and Arava with a number of fenced-off minefields. Accidents are rare, but occasionally occur.

The incident Tuesday came more than a week after a suspected Hezbollah terrorist infiltrated Israel from Lebanon and planted a bomb at Megiddo Junction in the north of Israel, seriously wounding an Israeli man. He crossed the border fence using a ladder.

The border with Lebanon has been somewhat tense in recent weeks, with the Hezbollah terror group establishing new tall observation posts as the IDF ramps up the construction of a defensive wall.

The IDF said it expects that ongoing construction work to build a wall along the northern frontier, to replace an aging fence, would be completed within two years.

United Nation peacekeepers have also broken up several standoffs between Israeli and Lebanese forces along the border, after the latter complained that Israeli engineering work crossed over the demarcation line.

The peacekeeping force, UNIFIL, has been in Lebanon since 1978. Composed of nearly 10,000 soldiers, it is deployed in the south of the country — a stronghold of Hezbollah — to maintain a buffer between it and Israel.

The terror group has long been the IDF’s most significant adversary on Israel’s borders, with an estimated arsenal of nearly 150,000 rockets and missiles that can reach anywhere in Israel.

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