Israeli forces raid Lebanese border area, detain 5
Published Thursday 17/04/2014 (updated) 21/04/2014 09:52
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Lebanese army said that Israeli forces crossed the border and detained five people near the occupied Shebaa Farms on Thursday.
The Lebanese army said in a statement that an Israeli foot patrol had violated the border and subsequently arrested brothers Hassan and Ismail Qassem Zahra, while Nouhad Awad, Wafa Moussa, and Woroud Moussa were detained while attempting to prevent the arrests.
The statement added that the three detained women were released after 20 minutes but the two brothers were kept in detention by Israeli forces.
It added that Lebanon was actively coordinating with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon which patrols the border to secure their release.
UNIFIL, meanwhile, said that they had been notified by the Lebanese army of the arrests near the town of Bastara and were in contact with both sides to secure their release.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said that the army had "identified suspects crossing the border into Israel," and after detaining them "two were transferred into Israel for questioning."
The Shebaa farms have been occupied by Israeli forces since 1967, when they occupied the Syrian Golan Heights.
Lebanese officials claim that the area is in fact Lebanese territory, as residents of the nearby Lebanese town of Shebaa own farmland in the area. They insist that it is the final strip of Lebanese territory still occupied by Israel after the end of it's 20-year occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000.
UNIFIL troops have been deployed along the border since the 34-day war between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006 which killed some 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.
Although the border is generally calm as a result of the ceasefire in effect since 2006, in recent months there has been an uptick in violent incidents.
In January an Israeli soldier was wounded in a blast on the border, while in December, an Israeli soldier was shot by his Lebanese counterpart on the border, though authorities claimed it was an "individual act."
The attack came four months after an Israeli incursion onto Lebanese territory near the border, which was repelled by an explosion claimed by Hezbollah that injured four Israeli soldiers. Israeli soldiers had penetrated 400 yards into Lebanese territory at the time of the blast.