Israel and Lebanon often clash. Photo/Reuters
TEL AVIV – The Lebanese army said it had fired tear gas at Israeli troops on the border in response to smoke bombs fired at its troops, although Israel said Lebanon initiated the confrontation.
Tensions have flared along the border over the past few months, with rockets fired towards Israel as Israeli-Palestinian violence escalates and heavily armed members of the Lebanese Hezbollah group or its supporters facing off against Israeli forces.
“Israeli enemy elements violated the withdrawal line and fired smoke bombs at Lebanese army patrols accompanying bulldozers to remove the earth embankment erected by the Israeli enemy north of the withdrawal line, the blue line, in the Bastra region,” he said. the Lebanese army said in a statement on Saturday, reported by Al Jazeera.
The location of the incident occurred in the Chebaa Farms and Kfar Chouba hills, which Israel captured from Syria during the 1967 Middle East war and are part of the Syrian Golan Heights that Israel annexed in 1981.
The unilateral annexation is not recognized internationally, except by former US president Donald Trump’s administration, and Syria is demanding the territory’s return. The Lebanese government says the territory belongs to Lebanon.
The Israeli military says it was Lebanon that started the violence.
“Some time ago, the (Israeli) army saw an engineering vehicle crossing the Blue Line from Lebanon into Israeli territory in the Mount Dov area,” said a statement from the Israeli military. “In response, the (Israeli) army used means to disperse the riots.”
“The vehicle returned to Lebanese territory,” the military said.
The Lebanon-Israel border has remained relatively calm since Israel and Hezbollah fought a 34-day war in 2006. Despite this, tensions remain.
In April, Israel launched a rare airstrike in southern Lebanon after fighters fired nearly three dozen rockets from Lebanon towards Israel, wounding two people and causing property damage.
In July, Israeli forces shelled a border village in southern Lebanon after several explosions were heard in the disputed area where the Syrian, Lebanese and Israeli borders meet.