BEIRUT — The Lebanese Army was on alert Sunday on the country's southern border after tensions rose over a breach by an Israeli patrol of the Blue Line that demarcates the border between Lebanon and Israel, the army announced in a statement.
"An Israeli enemy patrol breached the Blue Line in Aita al-Shaab [South Lebanon], to a distance of approximately one meter. A Lebanese Army patrol came and forced the enemy patrol to retreat beyond the Blue Line towards Occupied Palestinian Territories. A patrol from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon [UNIFIL] also attended to check on the breach," the statement from the Lebanese Army said.
"We are aware of tensions along the Blue Line in the area of Aita al-Shaab, where some Israeli maintenance works are ongoing," a UNIFIL spokesperson told L'Orient Today.
"Our peacekeepers are on the spot to de-escalate the situation. We urge all parties, and everyone present at the scene, to maintain calm. Any kind of work near the Blue Line is extremely sensitive, and we continue to ask all parties to coordinate through UNIFIL to avoid unnecessary tension," the spokesperson added.
Pictures published by the army show UN peacekeepers deployed between the two armies.
Earlier, Al-Manar TV journalist Ali Shoeib reported on Twitter that tensions flared after "a Lebanese Army officer pushed an Israeli soldier and removed an iron stake that soldier was placing in violation of the Blue Line."
إستنفار متبادل بين الجيش اللبناني وقوات الإحتلال الصهيوني بعد اقدام ضابط في الجيش على دفع ضابط صهيوني و اقتلع وتدٍ حديدي كان يزرعه العدو خارج الخط الأزرق وقوات #اليونيفيل تتدخل . pic.twitter.com/wvBY4H5XQz— علي شعيب || Ali Shoeib ?? (@alishoeib1970) March 5, 2023
The Blue Line was drawn in June 2000 by the UN after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon on May 25 of that year, ending an occupation that began in 1982. It signifies a "withdrawal line," as much of the border remains disputed.
UNIFIL was created in 1978 as a buffer between Lebanon and Israel.
Tensions are common along the border.