At least 20 Lebanese, including a member of parliament, marched into sovereign Israeli territory on Saturday morning, prompting the IDF to fire warning shots.
The military said the group crossed the Blue Line, a delineation marking Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, and walked some 80 meters (approximately 260 feet) meters on the Israeli side in the Mount Dov region.
After the men refused orders to leave the area, IDF soldiers fired warning shots and employed riot dispersal means, eventually forcing the intruders to return to Lebanon.
A security official defined the incident as a “Lebanese provocation,” while noting that the group did not breach the border fence with Israel.
According to Arab reports, dozens of journalists and activists joined MP Kassem Hachem, a member of the pro-Syrian Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party in Lebanon, for a “tour” of the Blue Line. “This land is ours and you are aggressors. This is our right and we will not give it up,” Hachem reportedly shouted at IDF troops during the altercation.
Saturday’s infiltration was the latest in a series of provocations along the Jewish state’s northern frontier, most of them instigated by the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group, which have raised tensions in recent months.
On Friday, IDF soldiers fired warning shots and used riot dispersal measures after a number of Lebanese suspects threw rocks towards soldiers operating in the Mount Dov region.
The incident came after the IDF on Wednesday foiled an attempt by Hezbollah to damage the border fence. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant confirmed that Israeli troops “deterred Hezbollah activists with non-lethal means and will continue to guard the security of the State of Israel.”
That same day, the IDF fired warning shots at a group of Hezbollah operatives who launched fireworks and set fires near the Israeli border town of Metula.
Tensions in the north have been high since Hezbollah pitched two tents in early April a few meters on the Israeli side of the U.N.-marked Blue Line. The position, located across from an IDF post, was reportedly manned by three to eight armed terrorists.
While the area isn’t home to any Israeli civilian communities, it’s one in which the IDF operates continuously to thwart incursions into Israeli territory.
It was reported on July 2 that Hezbollah had removed one of the tents.
Last week, it was reported that the United States has proposed that Jerusalem halt construction on a security barrier in a village on the Lebanese border in exchange for the removal of the remaining tent.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry revealed in May that Hezbollah has 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 Hezbollah-affiliated organization that poses as an environmental NGO.
According to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War, the terrorist group is forbidden from operating near the frontier.