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Israel forces shoot shepherd for allegedly crossing Blue Line 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 shot and wounded a Syrian shepherd on the outskirts of the Lebanese border town of Kfar Shuba on Sunday, Lebanon's National News Agency (NNA) reported.

In a statement, the Lebanese Army identified the individual as Mohammad Noureddine Abdel Al-Azim.

The Israeli Army confirmed "troops spotted a suspect who crossed the Blue Line from Lebanon into Israeli territory. The suspect was injured from [army] fire and is being evacuated to a hospital for medical treatment in Israel."

The spokesman maintained the shooting was justified because "in the past years, Hezbollah has sent to the area fighters disguised as shepherds to spy on and check possibilities for attacks against Israeli troops."

The Israeli army claimed the victim was at least 100 metres into Israeli territory when the shooting occurred. Adding, Al-Azim had crossed into the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms. The enclave is a disputed territory along the frontier between Israel, Syria and Lebanon.

Israel claims the enclave is part of the Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria in 1967. To date, the US is the only country to recognise Israel's annexation of the region.

Meanwhile, Lebanon and Syria maintain the land belongs to Lebanon. The UN, however, says the territory is Syrian and its future should be negotiated by Damascus and Tel Aviv.

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The UN peacekeeping force in Southern Lebanon (UNIFIL), has opened an investigation into the incident.

Spokesperson for the force, Andrea Tenenti, said in a statement on Sunday: "Today the IDF informed UNIFIL that an individual, who allegedly crossed the Blue Line in the general area of Kfar Shuba was shot by IDF troops positioned in the area."

Adding, "the situation in the area at the moment is calm."

UNIFIL's commander Major General Stefano Del Col urged restraint from both parties while an investigation into the incident takes place.

The incident follows several violations of Lebanese airspace by Israeli aircraft on Friday and Saturday.

While in April, an Israeli military drone fired two missiles at a vehicle carrying four members of Lebanese Hezbollah just inside the Syrian border. The attack resulted in zero casualties, but the vehicle was severely damaged.

Two days later, Israel accused Hezbollah of "provocative" acts, including attempts to breach the border.

Israel and Lebanon – predominantly Lebanon's Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah – are technically at war and tensions along the Blue Line remain high.

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