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Israel arrests 5 Sudanese who crossed from Lebanon

Israeli soldiers stand at a security checkpoint along a road near the northern Israeli town of Metula near the border with Lebanon on December 4, 2018 [JALAA MAREY/AFP/Getty Images]
Israeli soldiers stand at a security checkpoint near the border with Lebanon, 4 December 2018 [JALAA MAREY/AFP/Getty Images]

Israeli forces arrested 5 Sudanese workers who crossed the electronic border fence between Lebanon and Israel yesterday, Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV reported.

The group were interrogated by Israeli security personnel before they were returned to the Lebanese side of the border in coordination with the United Nations (UN).

An Israeli military spokeswoman told AFP that officials thought the Sudanese men had intended to seek work in Israel, which, as of January, is home to more than 6,000 Sudanese asylum seekers.

According to a statement from the Lebanese Army, border officials later apprehended the five, "and are interrogating them over the reasons that pushed them to try to enter into the occupied territories", according to Al-Manar.

A spokesperson for the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon said they are looking into the case with the parties, but did not elaborate, AP reported.

READ: Coca Cola to end Lebanon operation as Beirut requests $10bn bailout from IMF

Israel is technically at war with both Sudan and Lebanon but has seen a rapprochement with the former in recent months after a meeting in Uganda between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Head of Sudan's Sovereignty Council Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan to normalise ties in February.

Tensions between Israel and Lebanon – predominantly Lebanon's Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah -, however, remain high, and have flared in recent weeks.

On 14 April, Lebanese and Israeli soldiers faced off along the UN demarcated Blue Line between the two countries. UNIFIL troops stepped in to maintain the peace after Israel forces allegedly crossed into Lebanon while carrying out work on the concrete wall on their side of the border.

The following day, an Israeli drone fired two missiles at a vehicle carrying four members of Hezbollah just inside Syria near the border with Lebanon, resulting in zero casualties.

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While, on 18 April, Israel accused Hezbollah of "provocative" activity, claiming the Iranian-backed group had made multiple attempts to breach the UN-sanctioned Blue Line between the two countries the previous day.

Israel's Foreign Minister Israel Katz made the allegation in a statement, adding that damage to the self-declared Jewish state's security fence, inside its territory, was found in three locations. Katz said Israel would complain to the UN Security Council.

On 20 April, a spokesperson for the UN "called on Lebanon and Israel to exercise restraint to reduce tensions along the blue line".

Since the end of 2006's 34-day war between Israel and Hezbollah, which ended in a stalemate, both groups have largely refrained from direct fighting, but tensions along the border remain high.

AfricaInternational OrganisationsIsraelLebanonMiddle EastNewsSudanUN
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