Israel, Lebanon trade accusations over border clash

Middle East Monitor  /  September 24, 2023

Israel and Lebanon on Saturday traded accusations for exchanging tear gas along their borderline.

In a statement, the Israeli army said it had fired stun grenades at a Lebanese tractor after crossing the Lebanese border into Israel.

“A short time ago, IDF (army) forces used demonstration dispersal means toward engineering equipment that had been identified as having the tip of the equipment over the Blue Line from Lebanon, in the Mount Dov area,” the statement said.

“The equipment returned to Lebanese territory,” it added.

However, the Lebanese army blamed Israel for triggering the border clash.

The Israeli army “violated the withdrawal line (Blue Line) and fired smoke bombs towards an army patrol accompanying a bulldozer that was removing an earthen berm erected by the Israeli enemy” in Bastra area in South Lebanon, the army said in a statement.

The army said its forces “responded to the attack by firing tear bombs towards the Israeli patrol, forcing it to withdraw towards the occupied Palestinian territories,” it added.

The Blue Line was set by the United Nations between Lebanon and Israel following the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the country in 2000.

The UN peacekeeping force UNIFIL, for its part, said border tension had occurred between the two sides on Saturday.

“UNIFIL is in touch with the parties to decrease tensions and prevent a misunderstanding. At the moment we are on the ground, monitoring the situation and trying to bring calm back to the area,” UNIFIL spokesperson Andrea Tenenti said.

The Israeli-Lebanese border has witnessed tensions in recent months amid mutual accusations of violating the borderline.

In June, Lebanese group Hezbollah set up tents in Shebaa Farms and the Kfar Shouba hills, which are claimed by Lebanon.

Hezbollah fought several wars with Israel, the latest of which was in 2006 during which the Lebanese group struck major Israeli cities with rockets, causing significant material damage.

Over 1,000 Lebanese were killed in the conflict, while much of southern Lebanon – a Hezbollah stronghold – was devastated by Israeli attacks.