2 explosions heard in disputed area where borders of Lebanon, Syria and Israel meet

AP , Thursday 6 Jul 2023

Two explosions were heard in a disputed area of southern Lebanon where the borders of Syria, Lebanon and Israel meet, but the nature of Thursday's blasts or if rockets fired from Lebanon caused them was not immediately clear, local media and security officials said.

File Photo - Israeli self-propelled howitzers fire toward Lebanon following rocket fire by the Lebanese group Hezbollah August 6, 2021 .AFP


The explosions happened at a time of high tension in the border area over two tents erected by militant group Hezbollah and Israel’s building of a wall around the Lebanese part of a village that Israeli troops captured during the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war.

A Lebanese military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not cleared to speak to journalists, said one rocket was fired toward Israel from the border town of Kfar Chouba and that Israeli forces responded with two rocket attacks.

Minutes after the explosions, Hezbollah issued a statement about Israel's wall in the village of Ghajar. The village is split into Lebanese and Israeli sides along a border, known as the blue line, that was demarcated after Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000.

“It is not just a routine breach of what the occupation forces are accustomed to from time to time,” the statement said. It did comment on the explosions.

As part of the U.N. Security Council resolution that ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, Israel needs to withdraw from the northern part of Ghajar, which has not happened. U.N. peacekeeping forces in Lebanon for years have called on Israel to end its building work in northern Ghajar and to withdraw its troops.

The Israeli army said no explosion took place on its territory and only on the Lebanese side of the border near Ghajar. Neither the Lebanese army nor the peacekeeping mission known as UNIFIL, immediately commented on the explosions.

Lebanese soldiers in Mays al-Jabal, another border town, obstructed an Israeli bulldozer accompanied by Israeli soldiers Wednesday that reached over the technical fence to remove plants and trees from the Lebanese side. The tense standoff did not result in any clashes.

The situations also has been heated along Chebaa Farms and around Kfar Chouba. Israel captured those areas from Syria during the 1967 Mideast war, and they are part of Syria’s Golan Heights that Israel annexed in 1981. The Lebanese government says the area belongs to Lebanon.

In early June, Israel filed a complaint to the U.N. claiming that Hezbollah had set up tents several dozen meters inside the disputed territory. Israeli media had since reported that Hezbollah evacuated one of the two tents, but the group did not confirm the action.

Later that month, Israeli soldiers fired tear gas to disperse scores of Lebanese protesters who pelted the troops with stones along the border near the disputed territory.

Hezbollah also took down an Israeli drone last month. The group in the past has claimed responsibility for downing Israeli drones, and Israel’s military has said its forces have shot down Hezbollah drones.

Israel considers Hezbollah its most serious immediate threat, estimating it has some 150,000 rockets and missiles aimed at Israel.

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