Alert remains high on northern border

Checkpoints set up on northern roads, troops scrambled after reported shooting.

The already high level of alert on the Lebanese border was intensified late Thursday evening as IDF troops set up checkpoints on key northern routes following a suspected infiltration, but later in the evening, security sources said that the alert had been a false alarm. IDF forces were scrambled Thursday evening after shots were reported near the isolated community of Dovev, near Bar'am on the Lebanese border. IDF sources said that suspicious figures were seen in the area, and the electronic fence on the border was set off, indicating contact with the barrier. Security coordinators in border communities from Mt. Hermon in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west were alerted. IDF forces heading to the scene included IAF helicopters and infantry troops. Earlier this week, the IDF beefed up its presence in the north, where a high level of alert remained in effect due to warnings of plans by Hizbullah to heat up the situation and launch attacks against Israel. In recent weeks, Hizbullah has increased its presence in outposts close to the border, and appears to be gearing up for violence, security officials said. The officials estimate that, with the results of the inquiry into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri imminent, Syria may instruct Hizbullah to escalate its activities and attack Israel in order to distract the world from the results of the probe and its implications. On Monday, several roads located close to the northern border fence were blocked off by troops, and farmers whose plots are in close proximity to the border were barred from tending their fields. The last time the army went on such a high alert was in November, after soldiers thwarted an attempt by Hizbullah gunmen to attack and abduct soldiers in Ghajar. The high state of alert was imposed on Sunday following security assessments in the Northern Command and intelligence information received that Hizbullah planned to kidnap Israeli civilians or soldiers.