Unarmed man crosses Lebanon border, is arrested by IDF troops amid high tensions

Apparent Syrian work migrant suspected of climbing along cliff face near Rosh Hanikra; is handed over to Shin Bet for questioning

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

File: View of the border between Israel and Lebanon, near the town of Rosh Hanikra, October 27, 2022. (David Cohen/Flash90)
File: View of the border between Israel and Lebanon, near the town of Rosh Hanikra, October 27, 2022. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The Israeli military arrested an unarmed man who crossed from Lebanon into Israeli territory near the northern town of Rosh Hanikra on Thursday morning, as tensions ran high on the northern frontier.

Israel Defense Forces troops apprehended the suspect after monitoring him as he crossed the border, the army said in a statement.

No weapons were found on the suspect’s person and he was handed over to the Shin Bet security agency for questioning, the IDF added.

A military source said the suspect crossed the border by climbing along the cliff face near Rosh Hanikra, and did not swim via the sea as some media reports indicated.

The suspect was apparently a Syrian migrant from Lebanon who entered Israel with the hope of finding work. In recent years, migrants have repeatedly attempted to enter Israel in search of work in light of the ongoing Lebanese economic crisis, which has left many of the country’s foreign workers unemployed or underpaid.

“The IDF will continue to act in order to prevent any attempts to cross the border and violate Israeli sovereignty,” the military said.

The incident came as tensions ran high across the region, especially on the border with Lebanon.

Amid a multifront escalation of violence, 34 rockets were launched into Israel from Lebanon on April 6, with five landing inside Israel, four having unknown impact sites, and the rest downed by the Iron Dome air defense system. Two people were lightly injured by shrapnel. Later that day, another two rockets were launched from Lebanon at Israel, causing no injuries or damage.

In addition, recent days have seen a rocket attack from Syria, rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, clashes at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank, and a suspected Iranian drone launched from Syria.

Israel blamed the Hamas terror group for the rocket fire, as well as volleys of rockets fired from Gaza. The Israeli Air Force carried out strikes in both Gaza and Lebanon last week in retaliation.

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