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SOUTH LEBANON

Heightened tensions in Kafr Shuba between Lebanon and Israel

Israeli fired teargas toward Lebanese protesters while UNIFIL peacekeepers were "heavily deployed" along the southern border.

Heightened tensions in Kafr Shuba between Lebanon and Israel

A Lebanese protester plants the national flag across the fence from an Israeli tank during an anti-Israeli demonstration near the "Blue line" area, a demarcation line drawn by the UN to mark Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, near the Lebanese southern village of Kafr Shuba on June 9, 2023. (Credit: Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP)

BEIRUT — Israeli soldiers fired tear gas Friday toward Lebanese protesters in Kafr Shuba along the southern border during a demonstration in solidarity with farmer Ismail Nasser, who was seen Wednesday defending his land from an Israeli bulldozer.

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) “heavily deployed” more of its peacekeepers to restore calm, the group's spokesman Andrea Tenenti told L’Orient Today. Lebanese military personnel were also heavily deployed at the scene.

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Lebanese farmer defies Israeli bulldozer along the border: Protest scheduled Friday

UNIFIL peacekeepers held signs along the border stating “do not cross the Blue line" while Lebanese soldiers were deployed along the border, some armed with RPGs.

According to a live stream on the Hezbollah-affiliated Al Manar TV, Lebanese protesters threw rocks at Israeli soldiers as Israel deployed more personnel and a Merkava tank.

Amal MP Qassem Hashem (Marjayoun-Hasbaya) arrived at the scene in solidarity with the protesters.

UNIFIL 'coordinating with both sides' to restore calm

The UN drew the Blue Line in June 2000 after Israeli forces withdrew 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.

Protesters throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers on the southern border in Kafr Shuba, June 9, 2023. (Credit: L'Orient Today)

Commander of UNIFIL in Lebanon and Head of Mission, Major General Aroldo Lazaro, is currently "coordinating with both sides in an attempt to reduce tension and is calling for caution to prevent an unprecedented escalation,” Tenenti said.

Tenenti also noted that “Lazaro is urging Israel not to cross the Blue line.”

UN vehicles anear the "Blue line" area, a demarcation line drawn by the UN to mark Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, near Lebanese southern village of Kafr Shuba on June 9, 2023. (Credit: Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP)

The Lebanese Army said in a statement Thursday that an “extraordinary tripartite meeting” was held in Naqoura between Lebanese and Israeli military officers, headed by Lazaro.

The “Lebanese side discussed the repeated Israeli attacks on Lebanon, and the continuous violations of Lebanese sovereignty by land, sea and air, and held the Israeli enemy responsible for the consequences of these attacks, and called on the UN to exert maximum pressure to stop them," the Lebanese Army statement said.

“The Lebanese side also reaffirmed Lebanon's commitment to UN resolutions, particularly Resolution 1701 and its provisions, stressing the need for the Israeli enemy to withdraw from all the occupied Lebanese territories, which are the Shebaa Farms and the Kfar Shuba Hills."

UNIFIL was created in 1978 as a buffer between Lebanon and Israel, though tensions are common along the border.

In March, fears rose of potential military tensions amid apparently Israeli construction work along the border. 

BEIRUT — Israeli soldiers fired tear gas Friday toward Lebanese protesters in Kafr Shuba along the southern border during a demonstration in solidarity with farmer Ismail Nasser, who was seen Wednesday defending his land from an Israeli bulldozer.The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) “heavily deployed” more of its peacekeepers to restore calm, the group's spokesman Andrea...