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July 22, 2021 12:49 pm

IDF Arrests Two Lebanese Who Infiltrated Northern Israel, as Border Tensions Simmer

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

An Israeli soldier stands near the border with Lebanon, Dec. 5, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Ronen Zvulun / File.

The Israeli military arrested two infiltrators from Lebanon early Thursday morning, further raising tensions along its volatile northern border.

The IDF initially announced early Thursday, “Overnight, our troops spotted 2 suspects crossing the Blue Line from Lebanon into Israel and are now conducting searches in the area.”

“We have isolated the area and are using all means in order to apprehend the suspects,” the army added.

Some three hours later, the IDF tweeted, “Our troops apprehended the 2 suspects who crossed the Blue Line from Lebanon into Israel overnight near the border fence. Following questioning at the scene, the suspects appear to be job seekers.”

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Israel is increasingly concerned about the situation on its northern border, where it faces the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, which dominates southern Lebanon.

The catastrophic economic and political situation in Lebanon has led the Israeli security establishment to fear that a war with Hezbollah could be set off as a result; or, conversely, that Hezbollah could lose control of southern Lebanon, creating chaos that would be exploited by other terror groups.

Earlier this week, rockets were fired at northern Israel from Lebanon, causing no injuries. The IDF responded with artillery fire. The rockets are believed to have been fired by a Palestinian group.

Walla reported that Thursday’s infiltration prompted a massive manhunt along the northern border after the two individuals were detected at around 3 a.m. Residents of the area were told to stay in their homes while the search was ongoing.

A source within the security establishment said during the search that roadblocks were set up along major roads and forces deployed across open areas in order to “isolate” the suspects and prevent them from commandeering a vehicle and “disappearing” into Israel.

According to Israeli news site Walla, attempts at infiltration by Lebanese seeking work have increased as Lebanon’s economy collapses. Guides similar to the so-called “coyotes” on the US southern border are paid to lead the workers to the border with Israel, where the workers then attempt to break through.

The last successful infiltration took place last month, and the suspects were only apprehended after an 18-hour manhunt through open territory.

Sources in the IDF said that the route is known and the infiltrations are not random, but the result of a cottage industry that has sprung up in southern Lebanon.

Moshe Davidovich, chairman of the Confrontation Line Forum — an umbrella group for local councils along the northern border — told Walla that disruptions in the lives of border residents have become “routine” recently due to the infiltrations.

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