Lebanon accuses Israel of 'abduction' of woman on its border

Nohad Dali was taken on Saturday from Shebaa, an area Israel regards as part of the Golan Heights

Soldiers form the Italian contingent in the UNIFIL patrol the blue line in Lebanon's southern border town of Naqura on the border with Israel, south of Beirut, on February 24, 2018.
The UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon has made efforts to prevent tension between Lebanon and Israel from escalating into a conflict, warning of continued escalation on the backdrop of oil exploration and construction of a barrier on the border. / AFP PHOTO / JOSEPH EID
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Israel's army said on Sunday that it had briefly held a Lebanese woman who crossed the border and then repatriated her, a detention Beirut denounced as an abduction.

The Lebanese army said that the woman, Nohad Dali, was taken on Saturday evening from Shebaa, a small disputed area that Israel regards as part of the Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria in 1967, but which Beirut says is Lebanese territory.

"An Israeli enemy patrol carried out the abduction of Nohad Dali," a Lebanese army statement said.

The Israeli military said two shepherds had crossed the UN-demarcated border with Lebanon and that one of them was taken into custody by its troops.

"She was returned today," a military spokesman said.

There was no immediate Lebanese confirmation of Dali's repatriation.

A UN peacekeeping force is based on the Lebanon-Israel border. The last outright conflict there was a short war in 2006 between Israel and Lebanon's heavily armed, Iranian-backed Hezbollah group.


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Lebanon raised Ms Dali's case with the UN peacekeepers, the Lebanese army statement said.

Tensions between Israel and Hezbollah have heightened over the group's role in the Syrian civil war, where it has gained more experience and an increased arsenal fighting alongside President Bashar Al Assad as part of an Iran-backed alliance.

In February, Israel held a series of large-scale military exercises in the country's north to simulate war in Lebanon and with the active parties inside the country. Those drills sought to ready Israeli forces to fight on Lebanese terrain.

Such drills have been hosted against the backdrop of aerial clashes between the Syrian military, its partners and the Israeli army. In one instance, Israel shot down an Iranian drone that flew into Syrian airspace in February.

Israel launched strikes against Syrian targets in retaliation for the drone crossing, the first time an Iranian model had crossed into Israeli airspace since the beginning of Syria's civil war in 2011.