One of the first lessons the IDF learned from its failed war against Hizbullah in 2006 was the need to operate within all of the so-called “enclaves” along the Lebanese border.
Enclaves refer to land that is in sovereign Israeli territory but is on the other side of the border fence, which does not always run directly parallel to the internationally recognized border known as the Blue Line.RELATED:
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On Tuesday, an IDF entrance into one of these enclaves, near the Israeli community of Misgav Am, was what likely triggered the clashes that ended with one dead IDF senior officer and three dead Lebanese soldiers.
This, however, does not mean that Israel is wrong in entering the enclaves, some of which are hundreds of meters south of the actual border. The IDF’s Northern Command is of the opinion that it is crucial to operate within the enclaves to show the Lebanese that Israel is present in all of its territory, a so-called declaration of sovereignty.
There are also security benefits to operating within the enclaves. On July 12, 2006, Hizbullah guerrillas launched an attack against an IDF patrol from within one of these enclaves and abducted reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, in the incident that sparked the Second Lebanon War.
Since the war, the IDF has entered these enclaves almost every day. In some cases it coordinates with UNIFIL to prevent misunderstandings like that which happened on Tuesday – if in fact the Lebanese Armed Forces’ attack was the result of a misunderstanding, and was not premeditated as some IDF sources have speculated. In these cases, it even crosses the fence with tanks and jeeps.
Other times, though, the IDF enters the enclaves covertly and often
remains inside for full days.
“If we are not there, Hizbullah will be there,” a top officer stationed
along the Lebanese border said recently, explaining that by operating
within the enclaves, the IDF was making it difficult for Hizbullah to
launch attacks along the border like it did in 2006.
“This way, Hizbullah will have to start its next attack further from the
border, meaning that we will hopefully have more of a warning that
something is happening,” he said.
The Northern Command is also working with UNIFIL to complete the marking
of the Israeli-Lebanese border. This is done with blue-and-white
barrels that are placed every few hundred meters and form a clear line
of where the border runs, in the absence of a fence along the Blue Line.