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UNIFIL soldiers break-up stand-off between Lebanon, Israel forces

Lebanese Army soldiers faced off with Israeli troops after reports the latter had crossed the Blue Line on 14 April 2020 [Twitter]
UNIFIL soldiers break-up a stand-off between Lebanese forces and Israeli forces after reports that the latter had crossed the Blue Line on 14 April 2020 [alishoeib1970/Twitter]

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.

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.

READ: Israel army publishes video of Syria and Hezbollah leaders in Golan Heights

"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.

READ: Hezbollah's spy-hunter killed in Lebanon

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.

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