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Israel military congratulates Lebanon on 77th Independence Day in bizarre video

A screengrab from a video by the Israeli military congratulated Lebanon on its 77th Independence Day
A screengrab from a video by the Israeli military congratulating Lebanon on its 77th Independence Day, 22 November 2020 [AvichayAdraee/Twitter}

The Israeli military congratulated Lebanon on its 77th Independence Day yesterday in a video released on Twitter.

The video, which was posted by Arab media spokesperson Avichay Adraee, showed Israeli security forces in military fatigues wishing Lebanese a happy Independence Day.

Speaking in a mixture of Arabic and Hebrew, several Israeli military personnel said to the camera: "We wish the Lebanese people a happy Independence Day."

Some added that they wished Lebanon "calm and security".

Others hoped their northern neighbour would "restore independence" rather than have "a country within a country", in apparent reference to the power of Hezbollah and Iran.

Speaking at the end of the video, Adraee added: "I hope we will see Lebanon return to be the Switzerland of the East and not part of the Iranian project."

The video is surprising considering Israel and Lebanon are technically at war, having never agreed a peace treaty after the end of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict.

READ: Lebanon's president pledges to revive forensic audit of central bank

However, in 2018, the Israeli military released a similar video on Lebanon's 75th Independence Day.

In the video, personnel adopted similar rhetoric wishing their northern neighbours a happy celebration "free of Iranian imperialism and Hezbollah's terrorism".

However, observers say this year's video was an opportunity for Israel to highlight that it differentiates between Lebanon's civilian population and the Iranian-backed Shia militia, Hezbollah.

The move comes after months when Lebanese officials have started to appear more open to the possibility of peace with Israel.

Israel offered aid to Lebanon in the aftermath of the 4 August Beirut blast and lit up a building in Tel Aviv in a show of solidarity.

Meanwhile, Lebanon's President Michel Aoun failed to rule out the possibility of ties with Israel earlier this year.

Aoun's daughter, Claudine Aoun, and his son-in-law Gebran Bassil, have also expressed potential support for peace talks.

Lebanon entered into indirect talks with Israel, through the US and UN, in efforts to demarcate the disputed maritime border between the two countries.

The apparent softening of attitudes towards Israel comes after Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates normalised ties with the so-called Jewish state in US-brokered deals earlier this year.

READ: Netanyahu urges no return to Iran nuclear deal

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