Neighbours Israel and Lebanon exchanged smoke bombs after a bulldozer escorted by a Lebanese army patrol worked to remove “encroachments” on its southern border, the Lebanese military said on Wednesday.
The border clash is the second such confrontation in less than a week and the latest in a growing number of hostilities that have taken place between the rivals in recent weeks.
“An Israeli enemy patrol fired smoke bombs at a Lebanese army patrol while accompanying a bulldozer working to remove encroachments established by the Israeli enemy north of the withdrawal line,” Lebanon’s army said in a statement on X, previously known as Twitter.
“Army members responded by firing smoke bombs at enemy members.”
The incident occurred in Bastara, a small sliver of farmland near the Shabaa farms, considered by Lebanon as Israeli-occupied Lebanese land.
A similar incident occurred last week when the Lebanese army escorted a bulldozer working to remove a berm built by Israel beyond the internationally recognised line of withdrawal.
MP Qassem Hashem, who is aligned with the powerful Hezbollah group, called the incident a “clear aggression and violation of national sovereignty”.
“What is happening on the southern border in the Shebaa Farms area is an attempt to annex new parts of Lebanese territory and perpetuate its occupation of Shebaa farms and the Kfar Shuba hills,” he added.
Mr Hashem said Unifil, the UN peacekeeping mission charged with guarding the Lebanon-Israel ‘Blue Line’, should be held responsible.
The demilitarised Blue Line was set by the UN in 2000 to confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon.
Mr Hashem said of the Blue Line: “It is required to force the Israeli enemy to withdraw not only from the new occupied parts, but from the entire area of the Shebaa farms and the Kfar Shuba hills."