Israel says fired at Hezbollah operatives on Lebanon border

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli troopers on the Lebanese border opened fireplace at suspected Hezbollah activists on Saturday, the navy mentioned, the primary such incident since Israel launched a crackdown on cross-border tunnels into its territory.

Lebanon’s state-run Nationwide Information Company, nevertheless, mentioned the Israeli troopers shot into the air after they noticed a Lebanese military patrol close to the border demarcation, often called the “Blue Line”.

There have been no studies of casualties.

Israel mentioned the suspects approached an space on the Israeli facet of the border the place its forces have been finishing up an operation to close down tunnels that have been dug throughout the border by Hezbollah.

Israeli navy spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus informed reporters that three civilian-dressed people recognized as Hezbollah operatives tried to make use of the heavy fog and rain within the space “to method and intervene with, or to take, sensors” that had been deployed there by the military.

However Lebanon gave a distinct account of the incident. “Israeli enemy troopers shot into the air following their deployment close to the Blue Line in Kroum al-Sharaqi area to the east of Meis al-Jabal village,” NNA mentioned.

The Israelis “have been shocked, attributable to thick fog, by a routine Lebanese military patrol contained in the Lebanese territories,” it added.

Israel’s navy mentioned on Tuesday it had discovered passages dug throughout the Israel-Lebanon border for use for finishing up assaults inside Israel. It despatched mechanical diggers, troops and anti-tunneling gear there to close them down.

The scenario has to this point remained calm on either side of the border. However the Israeli operation has introduced renewed consideration to a frontier throughout which Israel and the Iranian-backed Shi’ite group Hezbollah fought a struggle in 2006.

The Israeli navy has mentioned its exercise would, for now, cease on the Israeli facet of the border. However a cupboard minister mentioned on Friday that Israel was ready to take motion in Lebanon in opposition to cross-border tunnels if deemed obligatory.

The United Nations peacekeeping Interim Power in Lebanon (UNIFIL) on Thursday confirmed the existence of a tunnel close to the Blue Line, describing it as a “severe incidence”.

Conricus mentioned the navy on Saturday uncovered a second tunnel that crossed from Lebanon into Israel and that it was as much as UNIFIL to cope with the tunnels on the Lebanese facet of the border.

Requested what Israel anticipated UNIFIL to do, Conricus mentioned: “To go to the places that we’ve got singled out and pinpointed, to find the tunnels after which to make it possible for these entry factors are blocked from the Lebanese facet.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu briefed Russian President Vladimir Putin by cellphone on the tunnel crackdown, the Kremlin and Netanyahu’s workplace mentioned on Saturday. [L8N1YD0IM]

(Reporting by Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem, Dahlia Nehme in Beirut; Enhancing by Edmund Blair and Clelia Oziel)

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