Reuters / July 12, 2023
BEIRUT/JERUSALEM – Several members of Lebanon’s powerful armed Hezbollah group were wounded on Wednesday in a flare-up on the southern border with Israel, two Lebanese security sources and a source briefed on the developments told Reuters.
There was no immediate comment from Hezbollah’s media office on Wednesday. The Israeli military said it used “a non-lethal weapon” to distance “a number of suspects” attempting to damage the security fence with Lebanon to the north.
The incident took place on the 17th anniversary of the start of a month-long war between Hezbollah and Israel that killed 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and around 160 Israelis, most of them troops fighting Hezbollah inside Lebanon.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah was due to make a televised address later on Wednesday to commemorate the 2006 war.
The United Nations peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon (UNIFIL) told Reuters it was aware of “disturbing reports about an incident along the Blue Line,” urging all sides to refrain from escalating given the situation was “extremely sensitive.”
The Lebanese source briefed on developments described the incident as an attack and said several Hezbollah members had been wounded, but could not immediately provide more details.
A Lebanese security source said Israeli troops had fired “something like a grenade” that emitted shrapnel and hurt three Hezbollah members. A second said an Israeli grenade had wounded three people believed to be members of Hezbollah.
Another source briefed on the incident said Israel had incorporated “preventive technologies” following repeated attempts to sabotage the border fence.
That source said one of these technologies, “a non-lethal, landmine-like version of a stun grenade,” had gone off on Wednesday and it was “designed to stun, through loud noise.”
Lebanon last year delineated its maritime frontier with Israel through U.S.-mediated talks, but the land border remains disputed and tensions have risen in recent weeks.
Last week, rockets fired from south Lebanon prompted cross-border strikes by Israel’s military.
Lebanon’s foreign ministry this week said it would file a complaint to the United Nations in New York over what it described as Israel’s “annexation” of the northern part of Ghajar, a village straddling the Israel-Lebanon border.
Lebanon considers it part of its territory, but Ghajar’s residents assert an allegiance to Syria.
Reporting by Maya Gebeily and Laila Bassam in Beirut; and Dan Williams in Jerusalem; editing by Toby Chopra and Howard Goller
Three suspected Hezbollah fighters injured in blast on border with Israel
The National / July 12, 2023
Tension has been rising on the Israel-Lebanon border in recent weeks.
Three members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah were wounded in an explosion on the border with Israel on Wednesday, a Lebanese security source told The National.
A Hezbollah spokesman confirmed the incident, although he did not say whether the injured were members of the powerful Iran-backed party and militia.
“There has been an incident, and there was live fire from the Israeli side, but I cannot confirm what kind it was,” Mohammad Afif Naboulsi told The National.
“There are confirmed injuries, but no deaths.”
A Lebanese security source told The National that the incident occurred near the village of Boustan and that the injuries suffered were “quite minimal”.
“They didn’t even require hospitalization,” he said.
Surveillance video showed four people approaching the border fence, followed by an explosion which saw them scatter, another security source said.
The Israeli army said a number of people had approached the border and tried to “sabotage the security fence in the area”.
They were spotted immediately and troops “used means to push them away”, spokesman Avichay Adraee said on Twitter.
The Israeli army later published footage of the incident on Twitter.
UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping force along the Israel-Lebanon border, said it was “aware of disturbing reports about an incident along the Blue Line”.
“We are looking into it,” the mission said. “In the meantime, the situation is extremely sensitive.”
Tension between Israel and Hezbollah has been rising over Ghajar, a town in an area near the Golan Heights that is claimed by Lebanon but occupied by Israel.
The town has been de facto annexed by Israel in a move that has not been recognized by the international community.
Last week, Israel began constructing a fence north of Ghajar on the Lebanese side of the UNIFIL-demarcated border.
On Wednesday, Israel fired a barrage of missiles in response to a rocket launched from Lebanese territory that exploded near the border.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah was scheduled to give a televised speech later on Wednesday to mark the anniversary of the 34-day war between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006.
Nada Homsi is a correspondent at The National’s Beirut bureau