Lebanese Army soldiers faced off with Israeli troops yesterday, after reports the latter had crossed the Blue Line – the UN demarcated border between the two countries.
Local media reported that Israeli forces crossed into Lebanon while carrying out work on the concrete wall on their side of the border, near the southern Lebanese village of Marjayoun.
An Israeli military bulldozer was pictured by Lebanese reporters inside the wall, and Israeli personnel were seen erecting a tent with engineering equipment inside, under the cover of a nearby Merkava tank.
القوة الصهيونية التي دخلت الى الأراضي اللبنانية المحتلة ( المتحفظ عليها ) في "خلة المحافر" جنوب #العديسة رافقها عناصر "هندسية" نصبوا خيمة بداخلها أجهزة" بحماية دبابة ميركافا .#قناة_المنار pic.twitter.com/pfexSXxYKm
— علي شعيب 🇱🇧 (@alishoeib1970) April 14, 2020
A high alert situation ensued when Lebanese armed forces faced off with Israeli troops with UNIFIL troops positioning themselves between the two forces. Israeli soldiers later left the area.
It was not immediately clear if Israeli personnel had crossed the Blue Line, but UNIFIL released a statement later in the day denying any such violation had taken place.
"No breach of the Blue Line occurred," UNIFIL spokesperson Andrea Tenenti, told Lebanon's National News Agency (NNA).
"The Lebanese Armed forces and the Israeli Army were present [in the protected area] but the Israeli Army was south of the Blue Line. UNIFIL intervened immediately to prevent any misunderstanding and to curb tension in the area, and the situation is now calm," Tenenti added.
The incident comes amid several violations of Lebanese airspace, and incursions close to the UN-demarcated Blue Line in recent weeks.
Israeli forces came close to crossing the Blue Line on 2 April to carry out a search operation, according to Lebanon's NNA, and "fired… a smoke bomb… which required the mobilisation of Lebanese army and international peace keeping forces".
While, at least one Israeli drone was videoed circling over Beirut and its southern suburbs for several hours on Sunday night and early Monday morning.
There's an Israeli drone buzzing over Beirut. People can hear it all over. It's been happening a lot lately. Is it because of curfew that we can hear it better? Or is it becoming more common? pic.twitter.com/0EBeHQviyC
— Liz Sly (@LizSly) April 12, 2020
The NNA reported warplanes flying over Lebanon's eastern Bekaa valley on Monday afternoon.
While, Israeli airstrikes in Syria as recently as 1 April and 5 March were thought to have been launched from Lebanese airspace.
Israeli military aircraft flights in Lebanese airspace, which are a frequent occurrence, are widely considered a violation of the country's sovereignty.
The flights contravene the UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, and called on Tel Aviv to respect Beirut's sovereignty and territorial integrity.