Israel bolstered its forces on the country’s northern border on Saturday after a Lebanese “engineering vehicle” strayed a few meters into Israeli territory, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
IDF troops fired stun and smoke grenades after Lebanese “engineering equipment” penetrated about 2 meters (6.5 feet) over the Blue Line into the Mount Dov area, the military said in a statement. No Lebanese troops crossed the demarcation line, and the vehicle returned to Lebanese territory, according to the statement.
The Lebanese Armed Forces claimed in a statement that “Elements of the Israeli enemy violated the withdrawal line and fired smoke bombs at a Lebanese army patrol that was accompanying a bulldozer removing an earthen berm erected by the Israeli enemy north of the withdrawal line, the Blue Line, in the Bastra area.”
The LAF had forced the IDF “to withdraw to the occupied Palestinian territories,” the statement continued.
According to Israeli reports, the Lebanese gas grenades were in fact hurled toward peacekeepers with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
“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 told reporters.
The Blue Line demarcating the 120 kilometer (75 mile) border was created in 2000 by U.N. cartographers to verify Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon, which the U.N. Security Council later certified as complete. The border runs from Rosh Hanikra on the Mediterranean coast to Mount Dov, where the Israeli-Lebanese border converges with Syria.
The Iran-backed Hezbollah terror organization does not recognize the Blue Line and disputes numerous points along the border.
In July, the IDF revealed that armed Hezbollah terrorists were spotted patrolling the border in clear violation of a legally binding U.N. resolution. The armed patrol was the latest in a series of provocations along the Jewish state’s northern frontier, most of them instigated by Hezbollah, which have raised tensions in recent months.
Two months ago, the IDF foiled an attempt by Hezbollah to damage the border fence. Gallant said that Israeli troops “deterred Hezbollah activists with non-lethal means and will continue to guard the security of the State of Israel.”
In early April, Hezbollah pitched two tents a few meters on the Israeli side of the Blue Line. The position, located across from an IDF post, was reportedly manned by three to eight armed terrorists. It was reported on July 2 that Hezbollah had removed one of the tents.
On March 15, a terrorist who infiltrated into Israel from Lebanon planted a roadside bomb in northern Israel that severely wounded a motorist. Shareef ad-Din, 21, from the Israeli Arab town of Salem, was wounded when the explosive device detonated behind a road barrier near the Megiddo Junction, some 18 miles southeast of Haifa.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry revealed in May that Hezbollah had in the past year constructed no fewer than 27 military posts along the Blue Line. The posts were built under the guise of Green without Borders, a U.S.-designated Hezbollah-affiliated organization that poses as an environmental NGO.
During a visit to the border with Lebanon last month, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned Hezbollah not to test the Jewish state. In a Hebrew-language video statement, Gallant told Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah “not to make a mistake.”
“If … an escalation or conflict develops here, we will return Lebanon to the Stone Age. We will not hesitate to use all our power, and erode every inch of Hezbollah and Lebanon if we have to,” Gallant warned the terror chief.
“Don’t mistake us: We don’t want war but we are ready to protect our citizens, our soldiers, and our sovereignty,” added Gallant.