Israeli soldiers set up barbed wire before a confrontation broke out between IDF and Lebanese armed forces.
(photo credit: HEZBOLLAH TELEGRAM CHANNEL AND AL-MANAR)
A second confrontation between Lebanese Armed Forces and the IDF was documented Monday during Operation Northern Shield to discover and destroy Hezbollah cross-border attack tunnels.
A video released by Hezbollah-friendly media showed LAF troops holding their weapons – at times aiming them at IDF troops mere meters away – as UNIFIL personnel worked to de-escalate the situation along the Blue Line.
The confrontation occurred as Israeli troops installed 200 meters of barbed wire and after Lebanese forces went on alert, Lebanon’s National News Agency reported.
The IDF confirmed to The Jerusalem Post that troops had placed barbed wire along the border but in Israeli territory, denying that Israeli troops had crossed the Blue Line into Lebanese territory or that any violent incidents had occurred with LAF troops.
The operation was carried out after consultations with UNIFIL, the military said, adding that UNIFIL troops were present at the time and there were no confrontations with Lebanese soldiers.
Lebanon’s Naharnet said that “tensions surged after dozens of Israeli troops and three Poclain excavators crossed the electronic border fence in Kroum al-Sharaqi in Mays al-Jabal and started drilling works near the UN-demarcated Blue Line,” adding that: “The move prompted the Lebanese Army and UNIFIL peacekeepers to go on alert in the area.”
Earlier on Monday, Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA) said that the IDF had launched a reconnaissance balloon over a highway linking the southern Lebanese villages of Kfar Kila and Adaisseh. On Sunday, the news agency reported that the LAF installed two mobile cameras to monitor IDF movements in the area.
THE ISRAELI military has been operating across from Kfar Kila for the past two weeks after it launched Operation Northern Shield to discover and neutralize cross-border attack tunnels built by Hezbollah.
The first tunnel discovered by the IDF was dug from Kfar Kila and infiltrated some 40 meters into an orchard belonging to the northern Israeli community of Metulla. A fourth tunnel was discovered on Sunday.
“The Israeli army has informed UNIFIL of discovering a fourth tunnel, and UNIFIL is fully engaged with the parties to ensure stability in the area,” UNIFIL spokesperson Andrea Tenenti said Sunday.
The IDF says the tunnels are under their full control and have been filled with explosives ahead of their demolitions.
Israel believes that the tunnels would have been used by the Hezbollah’s elite Radwan unit to infiltrate into Israel in an attempt to take control of communities and kill as many civilians and troops as possible.
Dozens of Hezbollah tunnels are believed to have been dug along the 130 kilometer border between the two countries. The military said that the operation would take weeks or months to complete.
Israel, which calls the tunnels a “serious violation of Israeli sovereignty,” maintains that the Lebanese government is responsible for digging the tunnels from Lebanese territory.
While the IDF said that it only plans to operate against the Hezbollah attack tunnels on the Israeli side of the border, Lebanon fears that Israel won’t be bound by that limitation and will also operate against the tunnels in southern Lebanon.
Israel maintains that the UN Peacekeeping force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) must act to destroy the tunnels on the Lebanese side of the border. The head of UNIFIL, Maj.-Gen. Stefano Del Col, has called the matter “serious” after confirming the existence of two cross-border tunnels.
Earlier in December, the IDF fired warning shots at three Hezbollah terrorists dressed in civilian clothes attempting to approach the border area where the IDF was carrying out tunnel excavation work. According to the military the three men – who fled back to Lebanon after IDF troops opened fire – took advantage of bad weather to steal IDF equipment deployed to uncover the tunnels.
Meanwhile, Lebanon said that IDF troops opened fire on a “Lebanese army patrol near the Blue Line in the Kroum al-Sharaqi region to the east of Meis al-Jabal village because of heavy fog in the area.”
The incident took place in one of the many enclaves beyond Israel’s security fence with Lebanon but still inside the Blue Line which marks the demarcation line between the two countries.
These areas, which are not covered by Israel’s fence with Lebanon due to the uneven terrain, have been previously neglected by Israel; a Hezbollah ambush of an IDF patrol led to the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Israel has since increased its presence in those areas, fortifying the fence and clearing away brush to allow for clearer observation.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>