Middle East

Israel ‘thwarts terrorist infiltration’ from Lebanon

Issued on: 27/07/2020 – 16:01

Israel said it had repelled an attempt by "terrorists" to penetrate its territory on Monday, opening fire on the gunmen just after they crossed the frontier with Lebanon.

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It said a group of three to five men armed with rifles crossed the Blue Line that divides the country in the disputed Mount Dov area, claimed by Lebanon, Syria and Israel as their own.

Israeli army spokesman Jonathan Conricus said spotters had tracked the group as they approached the border.

"Once they crossed the border, we engaged," he said.

"We confirmed visually that the terrorists fled back to Lebanon," he added.

There were no reported casualties among Israeli forces, Conricus said.

Details on any casualties from the Lebanese side were not immediately available.

We thwarted an infiltration attempt by a Hezbollah terror squad in northern Israel an hour ago. No injuries to IDF troops were reported.

We continue to stand ready to defend Israel's border from any enemy threat. pic.twitter.com/8NHmGeINsP

— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) July 27, 2020

Despite reports from Lebanese sources that Hezbollah was responsible for the attack, the Iran-backed Shiite group issued a statement denying involvement in the incident.

Monday's clash followed Israeli media reports of a looming possible retaliation attack from Hezbollah after one of its fighters was killed in an air strike in Syria that was blamed on Israel.

A Lebanese TV station loyal to Hezbollah said Israel had been shelling targets across the border.

Conricus said Israeli forces had fired artillery into Lebanon "for defensive purposes".

An AFP correspondent reported Israeli artillery bombardment on the hills of Kfarchouba in the Shebaa Farms area near the Israeli position of Roueysaat al-Alam, and reported plumes of smoke rising above the area.

Israel's army had initially ordered civilians on its side of the Blue Line to stay indoors, but later lifted those restrictions.

'Maximum restraint'

The UN considers the Mount Dov area where the clashes occurred as part of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

UN peacekeeping force UNIFIL called for "maximum restraint", adding that the firing had stopped.

Israel has in recent days placed its northern border on high alert and sent troop reinforcements to the area.

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